Mike Chambers is guest blogging for me today...thanks, Mike!
Occasionally after a morning service, I will hear someone say, “Hey Mike, great worship this morning!” After thanking them and walking on it hits me: what did they mean? Did they like the music? Did the band sound good today? Were they impressed by my trendy new sweater vest? All I know is something affected them. They had a good experience in the service. What is a good experience? Is it God-focused?
One of the statements in our church’s worship philosophy says this: Our worship will be God-centered; a high priority of the vertical focus of our Sunday morning service; the ultimate aim is to so experience God that He is glorified in our affections.”
Recently as I read through a Christian bookstore flier, I noticed an ad for a new worship CD that mentioned the term “experience” six times. We all love “worship experiences” with God. Experiences aren’t evil. But the concept of worship as an “experience” is fairly foreign to Scripture. I say “fairly” because there are times when worshipping God was definitely an experience! (2 Chronicles 5:11-14; Acts 4:31; 1 Corinthians 14:23-25)
The goal of gathering as God’s people is not to feel something but to acknowledge and remember something. That “something” is the Word, works, and worthiness of God, especially as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6) If I pursue goose bumps or heightened emotion during a meeting, God becomes simply one of numerous options I can choose to seek them from. This doesn’t minimize the importance of pursuing encounters with the living God characterized by profound emotion and awareness of the Holy Spirit’s active presence. Scripture is filled with examples of longing for, pursuing, and delighting in God’s presence. (Psalm 84:1-2; 1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 16:11) I become aware of God’s nearness by dwelling on His nature, promises, and acts, not by pursuing an emotional fix. This week may our hearts fight for God’s glory, may our minds focus on God’s truth, and may our lives exemplify God’s joy and faithfulness.
I am already looking forward with excitement to Sunday as we will focus our worship on God. My prayer is that as we come together to worship on Sunday, you will be able to “magnify the Lord with me and . . . [we will] exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3)