In my morning prayer time today the Lord brought something to my attention I think I’m supposed to share with you. This is something God taught me that dramatically altered and blessed my worship experience.
Years ago I was having a negative reaction to my weekly worship experience. I wasn’t leaving the worship event angry or bitter, but I was disappointed, disillusioned and empty. I was coming to worship every week with a report card mentality. I was grading and rating everything and everyone. My measuring stick was me, what I got out of the experience. I was leaving every week disappointed because so much didn’t measure up. It irritated me. It didn’t bless me. The worship leader was unprepared, neither gifted nor called to lead. The song selection was out of touch with what I liked. The communion prep was too long and too shallow. You get the picture.
In the middle of that experience God convicted me. He brought to mind a thought I’d read by Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard said that in the drama of worship we tend to think of the worship leaders as the actors, that God is the prompter of their lines, and that the congregation is the audience. No, contends Kierkegaard. The more accurate understanding of the sacred drama of worship is this: The people of the congregation are the actors. The worship leaders are the prompters. And God is the audience.
God is the audience! That line, that thought, changed me. Worship is for God, not me. I am the actor, not the audience. That day God’s Spirit taught me my worship isn’t about me. It’s not about what I get out of the experience. Rather worship is about God and what he gets out of the experience from me. What did I give to God himself? The Holy Spirit taught me it wasn’t my job to grade any other person. I can only grade me. How did I do? Did I see God for who he is? Did I give Jesus the praise he deserves regardless of the circumstance or behavior of others? Was my heart right?
God brought Romans 14:4 to my mind that day, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” My report card mentality was wrong. I couldn’t control what any other person was doing or giving or how they were doing it. And it didn’t matter. It’s not my job to evaluate others. Only God can do that. And we are all covered by his grace. He makes us stand. My job is to evaluate and control me. That’s what God wanted. He wanted me to give everything I have to him in worship. He is my one and only audience in worship. I remember vividly crying in the pew that day as God’s Spirit wrestled with me. That day I promised God to change my way in worship.
Discovering that worship is about what I give to God, and not what I get, revolutionized the way I worship. It still does. And I discovered that when I focus on seeing Jesus and giving to Jesus something amazing happened. It didn’t matter what the worship leader was doing. It didn’t matter what songs we sang. It didn’t matter if someone else had a wrong heart. All God wanted was for me to pour my heart out to him. And when Jesus became my focus worship became wonderful again
I think God is prompting me to share this because I need the reminder. I’m very human and I find that worship experiences and the people who lead them can still disappoint me. And I find I regularly disappoint myself. But Jesus never does. I’m never disappointed when I just pour out my heart in praise to him. He always lifts me into his very presence when that happens.
This side of heaven we will never be led in worship by anyone who is worthy enough or good enough or holy enough for the responsibility of leading us into the presence of our Holy God. David, the best worship leader of all time, was a polygamous adulterer, a murderer, a liar and a thief. His family was mess. His kids were a disaster. Even his wife Michal though he was just going through the motions and putting on a show. And I’m no better. None of us are. But that’s not the point. God is always worthy of our praise even though the people and experiences that point us in his direction never will be.
God bless you with great joy as you pour your heart out to Jesus in worship.