My local church had an amazing service last Sunday about worship that has made me sit down and examine my worship in a very real way. I serve on the worship team and have felt insecure about truly worshiping the way I do in private in front of people. I get insecure around people when it comes to singing. I would like to say I am a strong, mature Christian who rises above, but that would be a lie. Sometimes I think people may assume those who raise their hands and close their eyes, swaying with the music is a choreographed act for worship leaders to do. I really can’t argue this because I know some churches do stage their worship experiences. I hate that because I feel like it cheapens authentic worship. But, I can’t speak for anyone else or their reasons except my own, so I knew I needed to dig deep and put some time and prayer into this.
What drives my worship? It can’t be feelings, I learned that a long time ago. There are times I knew I must praise when I felt I simply could not. There is power in obedience and praise. I have had and still do experience events that threaten to shake my faith and make me realize that I must be intentional with my worship. Intentional goes beyond the feelings of the moment and gets to the motive of the moment. Worship is all about the motive. Am I worshiping to “get” something from God? Or am I thanking Him for what He’s already given me? Am I using it to manipulate God or others? Or am I using it as an opportunity to come before God and ask Him to search me and reveal what still needs refinement within me? I would love to say my worship is always authentic, but that’s not always true. I’m human and make stupid mistakes when I know better. However, the story of three Jewish boys who stood in the face of death by fiery furnace and declared to the king that their God would rescue them demanded a response. And even if their God did not save them, they would never bow down to worship King Nebuchadnezzar.That is a powerful response that must have required a radical faith. I would dare to call this radical worship. Their God is my God. So I had to ask the question. Is my worship radical?
The Priority of Worship
Worship is not the slow song that the choir sings. Worship is not the amount you place in the offering basket. Worship is not volunteering in children’s church. Yes, these may be acts or expressions of worship, but they do not define what true worship really is. There are numerous definitions of the word worship. Yet, one in particular encapsulates the priority we should give to worship as a spiritual discipline: Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828).
True worship, in other words, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of holiness. Thus, if your lifestyle does not express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, and you do not live in extreme or excessive submission to God, then I invite you to make worship a non-negotiable priority in your life.
Our pastor, Justin Racca, said “the extent to which you worship God is the extent to which you know God.” (Told you it was good and a lot to unpack!) So, I decided I needed a personal worship mantra and I thought I would share it in case you might, too. (Disclaimer – this is my own personal one and it does not mean that I think everyone should worship like I do. I am choosing these statements based on my personal ups, downs and in the middle relationship with Jesus and the things He has done for me and went through with me. I personally believe that God knows our hearts and desires individual worship from us that is personal and heartfelt. Just wanted to make sure I threw this out there!😄)
I will raise my hands to Jesus in response to Him and His radical love. I will do so, no matter what men may say or think, because my worth is determined by my Christ; and I am forever thankful to Him. I will close my eyes and focus my thoughts, attention and intentionality toward Him, thanking Him privately in my heart for the many, many times He has made a way in my life. I will remember to focus on Jesus when I am scared, doubtful, anxious, angry, lost, hurt, happy, distraught, disappointed, betrayed, rejected, chosen, affirmed or in despair. I will worship Him no matter the outcome. I will not worship for a particular outcome. I will never forget that He died for me. I will never worship like resurrection is common. Worship is a choice I am making, come what may. Thank you, Jesus. ❤️
Here is the message that inspired this post.
“Stoned Worship” – Justin Racca, Lead Pastor, Heaston Church