By Elizabeth Prata
Oftentimes the method or expression of our response to preaching (i.e. ‘worship’) becomes an idol. Depending on denomination, geographic location, or even age of the believer, people express themselves in church service in various ways. That’s OK. The worrying part comes when, rather than focusing on the object of worship, the method of worship becomes the focus. Don’t let that happen.
Costi Hinn preached recently about worship and within that sermon he spoke a bit on expressive worship, meaning the way people outwardly (or inwardly) respond to what they hear preached.
Worship is adoration or reverence to a Holy God. We’re all different and we revere Him in different ways. The stoic standing still in the pew with one lone tear might actually be having a deeper experience in reverent worship than the person shouting and waving their hands during the praise music. Or not.
The issue are these – and I’m paraphrasing many of these ideas from Hinn’s sermon combined with my own interpretation and thoughts based on scripture-
1. Good worship is modeled by qualified leaders. Too many pastors or preachers are self-anointed and self-qualified. Is what the man (and only a man, from birth) is preaching based on God’s word? Or is he preaching a Christian-y self-help/lifestyle topic unhitched from the Bible and whipping you up with rhetoric followed by empty music? Discern which is which. As the pulpit goes, so goes the congregation.
2. Does the pastor (or a Bible teacher) preach him/herself into the sermon or lesson? Doing so makes the preacher or teacher a glory hog. If yes, your worshipful response is toward the pastor or teacher, not to the Lord. Thus, worship has become an idol.
3. Is the worship response one of order and reverence or chaos and disorder? If the latter, it’s not worship. (1 Corinthians 14:33). Worship worthily and in truth.
People respond to these cautions by saying that we’re trying to cramp their style, don’t be so uptight, that worship response is personal. Costi Hinn said, yes, worship expressions are personal, but all worship expressions are accountable.
In the midst of passion we adhere to spirit and truth. Yes, some are more passionate in response to hearing the word or a hymn, but your passion can lie to you. Hitler was passionate. False teachers are passionate. Criminals are passionate. Passion by itself is not an indicator of truth. Stoicism is not an indicator of lack of fervency.
Spirit-led worship and its response focuses on the holiness of God. You can worship fervently and outwardly and be worshiping with a wrong motive, in a wrong method, to the wrong god.
Yes, you can worship in the wrong way. Jeroboam worshiped wrongly. (1 Kings 14:6-9). Nadab and Abihu worshiped wrongly. (Leviticus 10:1-2). Ananias and Sapphira worshiped wrongly. (Acts 5:3-4; 9-10). They were all killed. Even some of the Corinthians who abused the Lord’s table were killed for their unworthy responses in worship. (1 Corinthians 11:30).
So if you’re one who stands there stock still with a single tiny tear, as long as you’re revering the Holy God in your worship, you’re fine. If you raise your hands and sing loudly, you’re fine as long as you are worshiping in spirit and in truth.
We are not free to worship as we please. Why? He is a holy God and he deserves right worship. In fact, he commanded it. The most important thing to remember is not the mode of worship. It’s that all our worship expressions are aimed at the true Jesus and that our worship expressions are accountable.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1).