The other day, I was in the office and had a time of tremendous worship. Worship is not always corporate. Worship can and should happen in our personal time with God in addition to our time together. God continuously led me to videos and material on worship. I viewed many of the messages of Francis Chan. Francis Chan is a popular preacher and teacher and is the former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, which he and his wife started in 1994.
Chan stated the following in one of his messages, a statement that had a profound impact on the way I view worship. Chan said, “We pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ but I fear that things are much different in the church than the way God wills it to be in heaven.’” Chan adds, “When we have people entering our worship services, evaluating them, and saying, ‘Hey, how was church today?’ They say, “Uh, I really didn’t like the worship. Did you like the worship?’ These are stupid things to say…How did we get here, to the point where someone says, ‘I didn’t like the worship.’ Did it ever occur to you that worship has nothing to do with you? Worship is not about you. It’s all about God!” (Chan, “Are You Ready for the End,” YouTube, 2018). Chan is absolutely right in his assessment.
Chan asked the question, “how did we get here?” It’s quite simple. Socrates and Protagoras asked where meaning is derived. According to Protagoras (481-411 BC), man is the measure of all things. But according to Socrates (470-391 BC), God is the measure of all things. For the most part, Christians have accepted Plato’s view concerning the nature of truth and the measure of all things being found in the transcendent truth of God. Over time, Christians have adopted a more Protagorean mindset rather than a Platonic or Socratic mindset.
Since the Age of the Enlightenment (c. 1715-1789 AD), emphasis has been placed on the individual rather than God. The self is king. Human beings are the end unto themselves. Thinkers like David Hume, Voltaire, and Spinoza greatly influenced the Western world. Hume, Voltaire, and Spinoza advocated a God who was not involved with creation. Thus, people should live their lives as they please without concerning themselves with the involvement of God. This ideology influenced the liberal theologians of the 1800s like Rudolf Bultmann who claimed that Christians needed to demythologize the Bible. Bultmann held that in a scientific age, no one would believe in such things.
The thinkers of the 1800s influenced those of the 1900s. The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s pushed individualism even further by holding that a person could have relations with whomever they pleased regardless of religious convictions to the otherwise. Certain episodes of popular television shows in the 70s and 80s continued to emphasize individuality while devaluing the family unit. Eventually, children were viewed as an inconvenience and marriage was held to be something that was unnatural. Commercials bred entitlement thinking, leading to the belief that people can have what they want, when they want it.
Technology pushed the envelope even further with the advent of the World Wide Web. In 2004, the reign of individuality reached its highest pinnacle to date when a group of Harvard students created a new social app. Headed by one Mark Zuckerberg, the students built a temple to the god of individualism, where the self is worshiped at the altar of liked posts. This temple was called Facebook. Social media platforms like Facebook have made everyone a deity unto themselves. If someone does not like something that is said by the self-made god, they are barred or reported. Facebook heaven occurs when a post goes viral. Facebook hell is being placed in Facebook Jail where the person can no longer spew forth his or her thoughts and opinions. So, why go through this historical journey? It is simply to say that all of us, like it or not, have been influenced by the individualistic ideas of Western culture. The problem is, that’s not what the Bible teaches. The people of God are brought into loving communion with God.
Let’s examine first what worship is not. Worship is not about you! Worship is not about the preacher and how much you like or hate him (trust me, I have had both). Worship is not about the music and whether you like the style or not. Worship has nothing to do with your preconceived notions, whatsoever. Worship is not about your politics. Worship is not about your opinions. Worship is not about your traditions. Worship is not about rules, a manmade constitution, and bylaws. Worship is not even about celebrating our nation, as blessed as a people we are. So, what is worship?
Worship praises God. It desires to enter into the transcendent presence of Almighty God. Worship seeks to hear a message from God. It desires to know what God desires, not what we desire. Worship thanks and praises God for the blessings of life. Worship forgives and seeks forgiveness. Worship loves and receives love. Worship lays one’s burdens into the powerful hands of God. Worship proclaims along with the angels in heaven, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come” (Rev. 4:8, CSB).
So, are you truly worshiping God? If your worship is based on your own whims and fancies, then your worship will not be received by God (Mal. 1; Jms. 4:3). Why? Because, if this is your mindset, the one you are actually worshiping is your own self, not God. Let us all consider this as we seek to truly worship the Creator of heaven and earth. For our worship to be received, it must be made about God and not about ourselves.
To catch Chan’s message in its entirety, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMv4gx7-lnU&feature=share.
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