I was sitting in McDonalds just about half an hour ago chatting with some good friends and we ended up on the subject of worship - specifically relating to churches and church services. It seems that churches are often dealing with people who complain about one thing or another to do with worship. And seeing as most of these particular friends are involved in leading worship (unlike me) it was a topic that was something they had dealt with.
The whole conversation got me thinking about it tho'. I started wondering about our attitude toward worship in the church today and whether it really is pleasing to God or not. Worship is about bringing praise, adoration, and glory to God. But in the church we often seem to make it about ourselves and what we get from it. We go and expect to feel a certain way after the service, and if we don't, then we say that "the worship wasn't very good today." And if we "feel good" during the singing part of the service than we say that "the worship was good today." And we do the same thing based on the type of songs sung in the service and whether we liked them or not.
But this isn't right! How we feel when we're singing shouldn't be our determining factor as to whether the worship was good or not. We're there and singing to bring glory and adoration to God, and as long as that is happening, the worship IS GOOD!
The church today has lost sight of this. And worship has become a divisive issue in the church, when it should be one of the things that unites us. When we come together for worship we are gathering to worship the same God, and this should unite us, not divide us.
I honestly wonder whether God is pleased with what we call worship today sometimes. When we come with wrong attitudes and refuse to participate because we don't like the musical style or the type of songs (ie. hymns vs. choruses), do we really think that God is pleased with that? Do we really think that God is pleased when we refuse to participate because we don't like the song being sung? Or the volume of the guitar? Or what the worship leader is wearing? I don't think so.
Obviously, there are exceptions to the divisiveness that worship causes, and that is great. They are an example of what things should be like. But, I think, overall, worship has become what divides us in the church rather than what unites us. And this is very wrong.
Some people may argue that they have a hard time worshipping when things aren't to their liking. But, while I can see that it may seem more natural to a person to worship God in a way that they are used to; it does not mean that they can't worship God in a way that is different to them too. It may not be natural and they may not have the feelings that they are used to having when worshipping, but anytime we seek to bring God glory and adoration we are worshipping Him, whether or not the feelings come.
As I've been writing this, I've been convicted myself. I write about people in the church who do this, but I'm also writing about myself to a degree. I'm as guilty as the next person of rating how good a worship service was by how I felt or by whether I liked the songs we sang. But, looking back I can also see many times where I worshipped God more than ever before and the music was very different from what I was used to and what made me feel good. God has used those times to teach me a lot about what worship really is. But, I'm still learning. And I pray that, as a Church (the universal church), we would begin to really understand what it means to worship God.