I had turned onto the highway from my neighborhood on my way to the church office. I’ve been in the habit of keeping the radio off during travel but this morning I turned it on and caught the chorus of an older song, “Refiner’s Fire.” I have sung this song during worship dozens of times. It was written in 1990 by a famed Canadian song writer and musician, Brian Doerksen. His version is simple and beautiful.
It was easy to begin singing along with the music as it poured from the radio. The song was an old friend who I reacquainted with and we picked up our relationship right where we had left off. It wasn’t long before the words of the chorus were gently piercing the tender lining of my heart. Words like, “I choose to be holy,” “my heart’s one desire,” “set apart for you.” The song expresses an act of worship.
I realized once again that God never intended musical worship to entertain us. Worship exists solely to bring honor and glory to God. It is an act toward God the Father and Jesus the Son. In the Bible it doesn’t exist to “pump me up” to receive the Word. It doesn’t exist to sway my emotions so that it might be easier to “accept Jesus as Savior.” The essence of worship is showing reverence and gratitude to God. “And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6 ESV) Worship was never intended for the unbeliever. Worship has always been an act that God commanded His chosen ones to engage in. To worship Him.
Psalm 29:2 gives us other direction, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”
Again in John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” We can worship Him in spirit because the Holy Spirit is glorifying Himself through us.
In worship God glorifies Himself. It is not about me. True worship reveals our faults and short-comings as we gaze upon His perfection and majesty. Our faces fall before him. Of course there is joy in worship and celebration. But that is one part of the whole.
So the next time you attend your church and the fog machine is broken, synced lighting isn’t working, the sound board has blown out, and the projector bulb goes don’t be down cast and bummed. Maybe true worship for you is just beginning!
“Thus, God-honoring worship is not anything we want it to be. It is worship that concords with God’s self-revelation in Scripture and with his teaching on the kind of worship he desires. The Lord has left plenty of room for human creativity, but not unbounded creativity. Our creative expressions will honor God fully only when they are tethered to the Word of God, both the Incarnate Word (Jesus Christ) and the written Word (the Bible).” “The Soul of Worship”, The Reverend Dr. Mark D. Roberts