Worship Series :: B

This morning we sang “Heart of Worship” in church. I’ve sung that song a hundred times at least, and I’ve even led other people in singing. I usually always tune in to the line “It’s all about you Jesus” as a reminder of what my attitude should be in any act of worship, but today something new caught my ear. Just after that line, the song says “I’m sorry Lord for the things I’ve made it.” Total God moment since we are talking about transforming worship into other things tonight.
In Matthew 4, Jesus is tempted to turn stones into bread. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like much of a temptation. If Jesus is hungry (which he probably was) and he could turn stones to bread (which he probably could), then why not turn a rock into a nice croissant? I always figured that the temptation was about breaking his fast before he wanted to…in other words he was being tempted to eat too soon. I never thought it could be something else, until I read “In The Name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen says that the temptation wasn’t really about eating; he says that this was a temptation to be relevant. To do what made sense at that moment. To be useful. Jesus had to decide if he was going to be a person who found worth in his problem-solving abilities or if he would simply just be a hungry person in the desert. A hungry person who didn’t solve the problem, who didn’t come through, who didn’t deliver.
I say that we are tempted to transform every time we choose to worship. We are tempted to ask for relevant worship; we are tempted to want worship that makes sense to us and worship that we like. After all, if we like country music, why shouldn’t the worship music sound more like Keith Urban? Or if we like Coldplay, shouldn’t the worship band play something that resembles Clocks? Relevant music is an illustration of our limited hold on what worship is. It’s music to us…it’s a piece of a service on Sunday morning. But read on in Matthew 4 because the devil is about to clue us in.
In verse 9, the tempter promises Jesus everything if he will just “bow down” and worship him. He doesn’t ask for Jesus to sing him a song in a style he likes. He doesn’t say that he needs him to show up at church twice a week. He asks Jesus to assume a posture…he asks Him to bow down. What do you bow down for? Probably nothing. The last time I bowed, I think I was pretending to be in All Valley Karate Tournament facing some goon from the Cobra Kai dojo. We don’t bow, and yet that’s the literal meaning of the greek word “to worship.”
You see, we have bought into the temptation. We have become relevant. We have turned stones to bread…we have made worship something else. When you bow, you really give the other person all of the power. You can’t see what’s going on, and your whole being says that you are not the object of focus. And that sounds like a good beginning to a working definition of worship. We don’t need to be concerned with what’s going on around us because we aren’t the object of focus.
May we think less about music and style and our own enjoyment and more about how we can put our focus on the One who is worthy of all worship.

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