NAKED CHRISTIAN WORSHIP

Covering eyes in church  I saw a quote by J.D. Grear that is disturbing in its blatant frankness.  He said, “Good works are a way in which we try to hide our nakedness.”  It is a convicting truth that deserves prayerful attention from believers in a culture that values good works, whether the social ministry serving humanity kind, or the conservative evangelistic soul winning variety.  The problem is certainly not genuine Christian benevolence, or evangelistic ferver, but rather any sense that our works justify us.  Just as convicting, if not even more so for those called to worship ministry, is the thought that we might try and hide our nakedness behind the strains of expressive personalized worship songs, highly emotive body language, and loud sounds of presumed praise.  When the worship environment grows over-produced we need to ask difficult, but basic questions, like “Why do we think we need to pad the simplicity of the God — worshipers engagement?” “Are the actions of our worship centered in Who God is, in His Kingdom, or in trying to offer a pleasing human experience?” “Do we really trust the Spirit to work through Word and Table (Revelation and Response)?” “Do we lift up the finished work of Jesus, or are we more focused on human feelings?”

 

There is a sad presumption on the part of many worship leaders and worship leader wanna-be’s.  It is human nature to try to feel good about ourselves, and such is certainly a high priority in our culture.  By extension we presume the worship we are called to lead will be pleasing to those gathered for the worship (at least those we care about being pleased), and that they will then pour on accolades, which will gratify our longing for a sense of self accomplishment. An example of our misunderstanding of our role may be evident in our treatment of Isaiah’s calling, which many use as a model for worship form.  Indeed, Isaiah’s experience in the temple that day is rich in its revelation of  worship encounter.  What seems problematic, however, is our penchant to glean the experience of Isaiah 6:1-8, and then to leave the prophet there in his called condition so we can turn away and make application of the parts of that experience which appeal to us.

 

Wheaton professor, G.K. Beale, bids our attention to the prophetic ministry to which Isaiah is called.  Verses 9-13 of Isaiah 6 will not place the prophet on the most popular prophetic speakers list.  Though the Lord did tell him “Go and tell,” which seems innocuous enough on its face, we read on to discover the harsh message of judgement that is his to deliver.  At its root, Beale says this message confronts the nation above all for the sin of idolatry.  It is frightening to think that our worship could become idolatrous, but indeed, when anything takes over the controlling point of worship other than Triune God, then that thing has become an idol.  Thus the name of Beale’s book, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. 

 

As challenging as it can be to honestly assess our worship, should we not turn this thought around to ask simply, “What are we becoming?”  The worship itself may become the instrument of judgement.  In Isaiah’s day idol worshipers are described as being blind and deaf like the molten images they worshiped.  Is there not a danger for us as well that our worship can end up worshiping the worshipers, rather than God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

 

The thing about this covering up of our nakedness thing is that the truth of the Gospel is so revealing.  We have sinned and come short of God’s glory.  We are undone and need a Savior.  Thanks be to God, the Savior has come, bourn our sin, raised from the dead, and ascended to the Father, making intercession for us!  Surely we must bring better balance in worship by more singing about the character, nature, and acts of God, and less about what we are doing and feeling in the moment, even in our worship of Him.  None of us surely would ever want to hear the heart of our Lord’s rebuke,

Take away from Me the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps. 
(Amos 5:23)

Lord, help us to worship through Jesus, our Lord.  When You look upon us may you see Him.  In this season of reflection let us reflect on what we have seen and learned from Him, and journey toward the cross that is terrible and at once wonderful.

Go to dark Gethsemane
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

                        –James Montgomery (1825)

Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

One Comment on “NAKED CHRISTIAN WORSHIP”


  1. […] Paul Clark shared some thoughts on how some worship leaders fail to understand their roles: […]


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