Worshiping Worship (or Making an Idol of Worship)

Worship by the Book Ironically, sometimes people who are constantly seeking better worship might just be worshiping the worship “experience” instead of God.  Yes, our hearts are sinful to the extent that we’d make an idol out of worship or a worship “experience.”  God help us!  Don Carson put it this way:

“It is disturbingly easy to plot surveys of people, especially young people, drifting from a church of excellent preaching and teaching to one with excellent music because, it is alleged, there is ‘better worship’ there.  But we need to think carefully about this matter.  …Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship.  In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. …It’s a bit like those who begin admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.”

“This point is acknowledged in a praise chorus like ‘Let’s forget about ourselves, and magnify the Lord, and worship him.’  The trouble is that after you have sung this repetitious chorus three or four times, you are no farther ahead.  The way you forget about yourself is by focusing on God – not by singing about doing it, but by doing it.  There are far too few choruses and services and sermons that expand our vision of God – his attributes, his works, his character, his words.”

“Some think that corporate worship is good because it is lively where it had been dull.  But it may also be shallow where it is lively, leaving people dissatisfied and restless in a few months’ time.  Sheep lie down when they are well fed (cf. Ps 23:2); they are more likely to be restless when they are hungry.  ‘Feed my sheep,’ Jesus commanded Peter (John 21); and many sheep are unfed.  If you wish to deepen the worship of the people of God, above all deepen their grasp of his ineffable majesty in his person and in all his works” (p. 30-31).

D. A. Carson,  “Worship Under The Word” in Worship by the Book (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hammond, WI

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