I recently had the opportunity to teach the youth group at my church on the topic of worship. It’s a topic I’m passionate about (obviously, because Undignified Event) so I didn’t have a hard time coming up with a million thoughts to share.
I wanted to have Scripture to back me up and some cool inspiring quotes from hip celebrities, you know, to be a good millennial speaker, so I set to work looking and ended up in tears- for several reasons. The first, the Scripture was raw and cutting, and the second, the quotes were terrifying.
After teaching the lesson, I still felt the burden to share what I found and to give a warning to my generation. There were two key components to my lesson and, given my tendency to ramble (*cough*), one post would be too long. I’ll split this in two. 🙂
Unfortunately, what I am about to say will offend people. It is my sincerest desire not to offend, so I wanted to state that I am writing this from one Christian to another.
I am not condemning other religions, denominations, or belief systems for their beliefs. I do believe that Jesus is the one God of us all, but I also believe that our judgement rests securely in His hands and not my own. It has never been and never will be my desire to condemn.
I am writing this for my fellow believers because of something I see in our American Christian culture. I specify American Christian because I cannot speak for the burdens of Christians in other nations who live in far less prosperity than we.
Our American culture has set us up for failure when it comes to our faith. We live in a world where people are encouraged to follow their dreams at practically any cost, to believe what we want and let others believe what they want because “everybody’s truth is the truth,” to quote one Morgan Freeman.
The danger in this is that it goes against the solitary (punny) foundation of who God is: ONE.
“…the Lord our God is one Lord.”
This is the pillar stone of all believers because any change to it creates “false” (read: worshiping the wrong guy) religion. Satan, devious scumbag that he is, capitalizes on our culture by making us gods to ourselves.
He convinces us (yes, me included) that we are the most important people in our lives, others should sacrifice for us, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice for others, we ought to pursue what makes us happy no matter what, and if what we’re doing isn’t making us happy, we should quit it even if it’s the supposed “right thing to do.”
Unfortunately, this self-gratified ME-ME-ME way of thinking has leaked over into our worship services. To prove my point…
We’ve probably all seen this video in the past as it spread like wildfire among believers. Some supporting it, some condemning what she had to say.
For instance, Rob Slane of The Blog Mire seems to agree with Victoria Osteen.
“Worship primarily flows from God to us, not the other way around. This might seem utterly counter-intuitive. Surely when we go to church we are paying our dues and giving back to God? Yes we are, but there is something else going on behind that. Primarily, worship is about God doing something for us, not about us doing something for him. Just as salvation is initiated by God and not us, so the primary flow in worship is from God to man rather from man to God. It is God who calls on men to worship him, it he who initiates it, it is he who gives us faith to do it. We respond to all this, but we should remember that in the first instance, our worship services are God’s service to us, not our service to him.”
I, on the other hand, vehemently disagree. While some of what Rob and Victoria have said is true, it’s the little untruths sprinkled throughout their remarks with which I take issue.
You might be thinking “Okay Rach, big deal. A bunch of people are saying things that aren’t 100% true. At least their hearts are in the right place.”
I could totally agree with that. I’d love to say “Yup, no worries.” But I’ve seen too many people walk away from their faith because of the little falsities bad-ol’-Lucy-boy sneaks in and it scares me to my core.
As the sons and daughters of Christ, I feel it is our duty to warn each other when we become aware of these trends. If you knew your sister had cancer, wouldn’t you say something? Or would you let her die without ever realizing there may have been a cure?
In my own life, I’ve found one of Satan’s favorite pastimes is to see how he can make me fall to the sin of pride while hiding it behind the virtue of humility. He likes to whisper things into my ear like “The congregation gets up to worship when you lead because of how good you are at singing, it was so cool of God to bless you with that,” and “whether or not the altar call is powerful depends on if your music director will use your song choice, not his, because God gifted you with worship leader anointing.”
You may be giggling a little because these are laughable whispers that are more false than true, but added up overtime, they can begin to affect the way I think.
In most cases, Satan will tell you large truths with little lies designed to snake around your spiritual larynx and squeeze until you suffocate and DIE (yes! to be dramatic!). It’s like a splash of spit hitting your windpipe when you swallow. Sure most of what you breathed was air, but that little droplet of saliva is enough to make you cough and sputter and struggle to breathe.
This is why I can’t let it go just because someone’s heart is in the right place.
Shortly after I taught this lesson, a new video started catching. I saw friends and family members sharing it on Facebook, saying: “Wow! It’s so cool that Morgan Freeman is bringing publicity to the Pentecostal denomination!”
**Btdubs, ’cause I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it in the past, I attend an Apostolic Pentecostal church similar to what is depicted in the below video, though quite different in several aspects. If you would like a post on what I believe, please let me know. I’d be happy to write a post on it if there is interest.**
I agree that it’s great that he looked into the Pentecostal experience, discussed how we believe in speaking in tongues, and even gave the people in the video credit for being taken to another place spiritually (although, does anyone else get the feeling that this video is very staged??). But did you listen closely? That little phrase towards the end, “everyone’s truth is the truth,” makes this video spiritually lethal.
Not everyone’s truth is the truth. If that were the case, then when we die only 144,000 of us will make it to heaven (Jehovah’s Witness), while at the exact same time all of us will make it to some layer of heaven and some become gods equal to God (Mormonism), while at the exact same time some of us will be in Heaven experiencing new spiritual life separate from our now dead flesh (Christianity), while at the exact same time some of us will be in Heaven experiencing physical wonders in our once again living flesh (Muslim).
Do you see the problem?
Not all truth can be truth.
The very TRUE fundamental basis of worship is HIM HIM HIM. Why? Because of who He is:
Worship is, at its root, adoration for someone or thing. If worship is genuinely about us, like Victoria said, then it cannot be about God and we are worshiping ourselves. If we are worshiping ourselves, we are worshiping false gods and we are no better than before we found the grace of God.
God is a very jealous God and He won’t share my adoration with another- that includes me.
… I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
I realize that I’ve rambled on for sometime so breaking up this lesson into two posts may be a wasted effort (LOL), but I hope you can understand why I’ve shared all this. It’s so important that we not become undone by our ME-culture and that we keep our focus on GOD in our worship.
Worship is not about us, it never has been and never will be.
What are your thoughts? Please keep it friendly. 😉