Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When God is repulsed by worship

Soft-spoken and gentle, she came to us years ago, looking for help. She sang in the worship team of a large, well-known church, famous for it’s celebrity musicians and moving praise and worship services. 

She had a long list of difficulties, past and present, and looked stooped and worn for her young age. She’d been drawn to the testimonies on our TV show, and said she wanted to learn how to fight and overcome all the barriers that were blocking her. Many of her current problems stemmed from personality clashes and bitter power struggles in the church where she sang.  

She was emotionally fragile, and recoiled at our encouragement to change the way she prayed, and to take a stand against the negativity in her life, while being forgiving towards those who’d hurt her. After about a month of counseling and reluctant to attend our services, she announced that she didn’t want to fight. She didn’t want to take action at all. She just didn’t have it in her to be bold in faith, she said. She was convinced that the only way to overcome her problems was to keep singing on the worship team, quoting Psalm 22:3, “The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.”  She held the mystical belief that the practice of singing would be enough to heal her of all the trauma of her past and unravel the various messes she was in. It was a doctrine she’d been taught in her church. And like a Buddhist chanting his sutras, she’d lead the congregation by singing herself into a trance, believing that she would find God in the music, and magically be set free.

Only God knows whether a person is worshipping in Spirit and in truth. But with so many churches that are heavy on entertainment and light on obedience, their worship time is most likely more flesh than Spirit. I know, because I’ve had to counsel a steady stream of broken and confused Christians who’ve practically given up on God after finding no help in their former churches, just like this young woman.  

Whether churches teach her type of pseudo-spirituality, or they’re motivated by wanting to be cool, the emphasis on emotionalism through a fancy worship team easily detracts from the simplicity of faith. The simplicity of obedience, sacrifice, perseverance, rational faith, and fighting the good fight. Don’t fight against sin or evil, just sing. Don’t treat others with integrity or fairness or kindness, just sing, shout, hoot and holler. Don’t teach the truth about the narrow path or the narrow door that few enter to reach the Kingdom of God, just put on a big impressive show with the best musicians and watch the crowds pack in. That’s contemporary Christian megachurch strategy, 101.

God loves true worship.  But He doesn’t hear the prayers of everyone. God doesn’t honor the songs of everyone, even when they invoke His name. “If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray…” That’s a big “if.” God places conditions on who He hears and who He answers. His promises are exclusively for those to trust in Him and submit to His commands, not just the sweet and light verses that don’t offend anyone. For those who act on His word, He hears. For those who take a stand against the devil and his schemes, He answers. For those who live in obedience to Him as Lord, He protects and provides. God not only refuses to listen to those who don’t obey, He’s repulsed by the noise of their music. He inhabits the praises of His people when their lives, not just their songs, honor Him as their Lord.

Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like water, and righteousness, like an ever-flowing stream.  (Amos 5:23-24 MEV)

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