A post in the ongoing---and possibly unending--anointing (one n) thread got me to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing. One post in particular mentions having trouble knowing the difference between (paraphrase here) participating in a spirit filled worship, experiencing God's presence, or having an emotional reaction to music that happens to mention Jesus in it.
What do you think?
Not weird at all. If anyone should understand what you said, a worship team member ought to!
At some point in time, people simply decided to use musical instruments in worship, and they liked doing it, so they kept on doing it. Every several hundred years God said something about it, basically that sometimes it's a great thing to do (Psalm 150), sometimes God chokes on it (Amos) -- 'pends on what else we're doing with our lives at the time.
I know that I'm really late to the discussion here, but I'm going to toss an opinion into the mix. I'll even try not to use the word idol in my post....
The reason people struggle to tell the difference is because there is no difference. People have that emotional charge and they credit God or the Holy Spirit. The real problem here is that we don't credit God with those things if we don't have an experience or some emotional charge in our worship offering.
This is, of course, wrong and completely denies the entire point of worshiping God in the first place.
What's the matter with tears? You, me, Mary, the publican, Paul the apostle, John the revelator...
What "should" worship look like? That's an incredibly subjective question. The only people who can limit the answer to objective terms are salesmen (their livelihood depends on repeated experience).
Parable of the olive garden:
Whether it's worship, or any other human activity, people have a built-in tendency to view their ideal as THE ideal. The "Olive Garden" is a pricey restaurant which we go to on special occasions. They have a huge menu, but they happen to have the best lasagne and best dinner salad I have had anywhere. Each time I think about ordering something different - it would be adventurous - it would surely be good! - but my mouth always says "lasagne" when the girl with the pad is waiting for my order.
So I cannot really describe the Olive Garden as a great restaurant; my knowledge is limited to their lasagne. I might have "faith" that other items are served similarly well -- though once in awhile my wife and I share forkfuls of whatever she is having, and we appreciate not only the new taste, but more importantly -- each other.
Now I've just described worship in terms of consumerism (the think I rant against); but perhaps this little parable will still add to the discussion.
Great responses to Cory's thought provoking reply.
Hey, I only wish I could cry.........I, more often than not don't feel anything at all during worship. I look around the room and see everyone with eyes closed hands up etc. and think 'whasamatter with me?' and even worse I think 'Are these people for real?' I am not prepared to fake, like Greg N pointed out 'faking is worse than not feeling anything'. You can't force feelings and I am just beginning to come to terms and accept with that in myself.
I used to go to big charismatic events etc. and loved it at the time but now I am much more content with the quiet faith I have. I get hassle from other Christians as they say that they are worried that I have lost my faith etc. I haven't, but somewhere along the lines I have changed and this is where I am at now. Of course, I have questioned and questioned myself and prayed about it, wondering where I am going wrong 'cos I haven't got the same desires as I used to have and that others still have (or appear to have), but they are simply not there.
I am not exactly sure what I am trying to say really, except that Cory and the two Greg's, I know what you are saying!
The Paul who writes "life peaceably and mind your own business" is the same Paul who thrust himself into danger situations in the center of Athens; the Paul who writes of growing together in the unity of the faith is the same Paul who split a mission team in half because of his doubts about one of the members. He grew, he changed, looking to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Unless one has a calling to something big or something far from home (in which case one would need to "gear up" and re-stoke the fires), a sign of maturity is being content. Godliness with contentment is great gain. How many pastors have "lost" their children because they tried to serve God after the kid came the same way they did before (say, the missionary who packs his children away to boarding school, effectively de-fathering them)? No; the priorities change, they fit the present and future, not the past. John takes Mary to be his mother, as Jesus is dying. This changes John's life, his whole way of doing ministry.
I get more aware of my limitations as I age. Big scenery for plays, involving ladders, no longer interests me (I stay away from anything involviong ladders now) - so I do the thing I once kind of despised (projected backgrounds), but work hard to find the art in what I am doing. I always love to play my instrument; but now yielding it to others (once an anguish) is easier, for the joy of helping another start has more value to me now.
I enjoy playing softball; but when I make a diving catch simply because I cannot keep my balance after fielding the ball -- well, there may be more effective ways to spend those hours, and new joys will be found.
Thanks for that Greg. You are so right about change. We change, life changes and circumstances change all the time. I'm no spring chicken for sure, but you know I have a acquired a strength and quiet confidence of late that was never there in my younger years. I'm on my summer hols at the moment (hence having more time to come on here) but normally life is busier than it has ever been.
I realise we all need to be spiritually fed but there are other ways apart from the 'big' events. Growth can, and does take place in the quiet times and stillness when we give God the time to speak to us.
I look around the room and see everyone with eyes closed hands up etc. and think 'whasamatter with me?' and even worse I think 'Are these people for real?
You have a two part question here, and I'll start off by saying that the second question is one that we need to be super careful with:
So the question is valid, in a certain context. And you have to know your people really well to be able to really get a good answer.
The first question is probably the most important question that we need to answer. First, don't fake it with God. You can't. Your heart for worship is what defines your acceptable worship offering to God.
This said, perhaps there is a bigger picture that we need to be aware of in our worship offering to God (in all of its infinite forms). That is the perception of the lost. People make claims about who they worship - their actions define who they really worship. Sometimes being passionate for something isn't enough - you have to SHOW that passion. Even God recognized this fact. Holy scripture tells us that He loved and SHOWED that love by sending His Son. God made a personal and very unnatural sacrifice so that we could have pretty concrete evidence of His love.
With all these things considered, I think there is a certain obedience in asking God to make your excitement and love for Him easily observed by our fellow Christians and non-believers. It is OK to say "God, make me even more humble and allow me to give a worship offering of praise that not only looks authentic to you but to any lost soul who may be observing my actions." Then allow God to refine your disposition.
The other side of this coin is that, as a worship leader, I have a responsibility to let people know what is acceptable during our worship offering to God. Part of what has to be considered is our congregation's culture and in the American culture (I think your from the UK aren't you?), we are taught to be very deadpan in our worship offering to God. Perhaps not explicitly, but if you're a newcomer to a group and not familiar with the rules and ways, you're probably going to follow whatever is happening.
This deadpan training has a nasty little adverse effect in that as we worship with deadpan, it is extremely difficult to get the emotions to correctly express. And yes, while worship isn't about emotions, God gave them to us, we ought to be considering ways to give them back, and used with music is a very natural place to this. Don't believe me? Go to any modern secular concert and watch the audience engage the music with a wide array of emotions.
So don't fake it, but ask God to refine you.
As for me, I have a very long way to go here as God has given most rocks more personality than I have. However, I think there is something more at play than my personality - therefore, I believe that I need to submit to God and ask for refinement.
Thanks for that. It has given me a lot to think about. I have often prayed to God 'Let me be a beacon for You' but when praying this I have never really thought about it in terms of leading/participating in worship, as opposed to every day life experiences.
You talk about personality, and in my case I think it has alot to do with my personality. I am not by nature a 'showy' person in any shape or form, never have been. Plus, I am quite a shy person. Oh, I know I can make my mouth go on WTR, but it's so much easier for me to write down what I want to say than to speak it out loud. So what I am trying to say is that, outward signs of emotion don't come natural for me, they tend to stay within me. I will take on board all you have said, again thank you.
God Bless. Lorraine
ps. Yep, from the Uk, don't know if that makes a difference!
I must have missed that "deadpan training"; maybe because I've only been in churches where the leader is encouraged to show whatever's inside. But from your comment I think I understand all those album covers with handsome young people with absolutely expressionless faces, as if smiling has become so passe that you don't dare do it anymore.
Maybe I already posted that Oscar Wilde comment already, but it seems to fit here: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
It's easier for God to refine us if we stand still and be the same person while he's doing it.