Worship Continuously

Love the Lord your God ... with all your soul... Mark 12:30b

I suspect that when you clicked on 'Worship Continuously' you came expecting some discussion on music styles. After all right now red hot debates are going on in churches all over North America about worship music. Yet despite the amount of noise, level of anger and apocalyptic language that tends to get tossed around most debates can be summed up with two questions, 'Why don't you play my favorite song(s)?' and "Why don't you use my favorite instrument(s)'? Perhaps you may have thought I would decry churches who tried to be either a) to 1950's in the style refusing to give up on their organ OR b) to slick in their presentation sacrificing depth for flash. If you thought anything like that, you are wrong. But that is hardly your fault it seems like almost everyone in the Western Church has forgotten that 'music' & 'worship' are not synonyms. Let me be clear on something worship is not about what songs we sing, how loudly we sing them, what instruments we used to lead us in singing or whether we clapped and raised our hands or not. All of those things are important to talk about, and think about when we are talking about music, but worship is so much more than how we do music.

No I will not be talking about music styles, I want to talk about worship. I want to talk about being a deeply spiritual person, that is what I mean when I say we need to worship intensely. And this topic is one of great interest both inside and outside the church.

It has often been said that we are living in a very spiritual generation, and that may well be true. But what is also true, very few people in this spiritual generation believes the church has anything useful to say on this topic. Reach search done by the Barna Group found this, "Christianity is perceived as separated from real spiritual vitality and mystery. It seems like a religion of rules and standards. Surprisingly, the Christian faith today is perceived as disconnected from the supernatural world- a dimension that the vast majority of outsides believe can be accessed and influenced"

These finding are saying that a vast majority of people aged 16-45 do believe in the supernatural, and that we can experience it here in the world today, they simply don’t think that they will experience it with us. It is not that Christianity is seen as one of the options among many that people can explore their spirituality, Christianity isn’t even seen as an option, it is too devoid of life, too rule driven.

Now thankfully this perception is wrong. Or perhaps it is better to say thankfully this perception can be wrong. It is unfortunately true that churches can become hard nosed, rule driven and seemingly devoid of the life giving Holy Spirit. But this should be looked at as an anomaly rather than the rule, as something to be mourned rather than emulated. Yet this sad reality can only be avoided if we get serious about worship, instead of so worked up over music.

I find it interesting when Jesus modeled worship we never see a reference to him leading a sing song. Instead we find him in prayer, fasting, and in solitude. Jesus, Son of God, second person in the Trinity took time to be in prayer, to fast and to retreat, that has always blown me away. You would think if there was every anyone who didn't need to pray it would be Jesus, and yet time and time again, we see Jesus going to prayer. That was how he connected with his Father, that was part of the way he worshiped intensely.

Paul also can help us know how we should worship intensely. He gives this instruction to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 KJV) Looking at these two pictures side by side we see what a life marked by worship is like. We are always rejoicing and giving thanks to God, for everything. And we are always in prayer.

Take special notice that we are always supposed to be worshiping. I think that forces us to move away from the false idea that what we do in church is worship and what we do elsewhere is life. Instead we have to treat all of our actions as actions of worship. We have to avoid quenching the Spirit, thinking that he only works on Sunday’s, or that he only shows up if we are loud enough or quite enough. The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit can show up whenever, and where ever he’d like to we just have to get used to expecting that he will. Worship is a life style worship is something we have to do every day, everywhere, all the time. Worship is about encountering God and praising him for who he is.

If we want to 'Worship Continuously' we need to move beyond talking about music. We need to live out what Jesus modeled. We need to live each day always expecting to encounter God somewhere.