The Call to Worship is not just for the Sunday bulletin.
Traditionally, we have used the phrase "go to church" rather loosely; as we have the phrase "morning worship". What do those phrases mean anyway? The Word of God says that we are the temple of the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 6:19). The church lies within each of us by reason of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; not within our structures made of bricks and concrete.
Without getting into a broad theological discussion about the inner workings of the church body, when we speak of the church worship service, I am reminded of three things. First, the church is within us; second, worship is an encounter with almighty God, and third, service is the attitude of being a servant. So when we attend our church worship services, perhaps we should ask ourselves first, were we present in the "building", but absent from the temple? Did we really meet God in a true worship encounter? Were we challenged to serve?
Oftentimes we use the phrase "morning worship" and "church service" synonymously. When we say we attended "morning worship", does it mean we worshiped? Or does it just mean we "went to church"? Our presence in the church building at a certain hour on Sunday morning amongst other believers doesn't necessarily mean we worshipped. Being in church every Sunday doesn't make you a worshiper any more than attending the opera makes you an opera singer. Both take time, discipline, and sacrifice. Worship is an encounter; it is a sincere heart lifted toward a holy God. If our hearts are lifted, it is probably that our hands will be lifted also. If our hearts are bowed low in humble submission before God, then our bodies may well follow suit. We read in Revelation 4:10 that the elders "fall down before him...and worship him"...In verses 8 and 14 of Chapter 5 we see a similar scenario:
8. And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb..."
14. And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.
When we gather on Sunday morning it should not be only to meet one another, but we should gather to meet God, and our very hearts should be raised to give Him honor. But not at the Sunday morning hour only--our worship to God should be a lifestyle. It should be something that we give ourselves to daily. God is not a denominational God! He is not Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, or Methodist. He's God! We worship Him for Who He is. Worship points directly to the heart of God. John 4:24 makes no distinction as to denomination, nationality, ethnicity, or culture. It merely states that "God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Neither does this passage make any reference to music. Great music does not guarantee worship. Worship is a private attitude sometimes expressed in public. We use music sometimes as a vehicle toward worship, or our worship may take on the form of music or singing, but music and worship are not synonymous.
In my over 25 years of gospel musicianship, one of the things I have learned is that not all musicians are worshipers. Those who worship apart from their instruments and on the other six days of the week exude more power from their ministries because of the anointing on their lives that is enhanced because they make worship a priority.
They make the worship of God priority not only in their ministries, but in their daily lives. My question to all musicians everywhere is if God is not running your life, how can he run your ministry? There is a deeper dimension that God wants to take us to. It is a deeper dimension that many of us have yet to experience. God grants us daily such a level of extravagant grace, that it should propel all of us to offer Him extravagant worship! The most we can offer God is sincere, heartfelt worship that flows from a heart filled with gratitude for His awesome power in our lives.
Living the worship lifestyle is a daily pursuit. Worship is not mere action--it is an encounter. We must never measure the worship experience based on outward manifestations. In other words, singing more loudly, or lifting our hands higher than the person next to us does not qualify as worship. Attitude is what qualifies the action as worship. Real worship is not about what we are doing, but it is about what God is doing. This is the core difference between traditional and prophetic worship. When we receive a revelation from God, it gives us a reason to worship Him.
The prophet Isaiah knew this all too well. Isaiah tells us in Chapter 6 of his book that in the same year King Uzziah died, he saw the Lord "high and lifted up". In verse 3 of that chapter we are told that the Seraphim cry out "Holy, Holy, Holy...the whole earth is filled with His glory." This revelation not only led Isaiah to worship, but it also threw him into a state of self-examination, according to verse 5:
5. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."
King Jehoshaphat had also received a revelation from God that prompted him and all of Judah to worship. Second Chronicles Chapter 20 details it for us. When a battle between Judah and the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir seemed imminent, the man of God spoke from among the people. God revealed through Jahaziel not only where their enemies would be stationed, but He also gave them His promise that they would not have to fight in this battle. The passage goes on to tell us in verse 18 that after God had spoken, Jehoshaphat and all of Judah fell down before the Lord in worship:
18. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.
A synopsis of this particular story may go something like this: (a) God spoke, (b) the people worshiped, and (c) the only battle that took place the next day, according to verse 23, was among the enemies of God's people, who all rose up against, and destroyed one another.
One of the hindrances to our personal and corporate worship is not having had a revelation of God--that is having the proper view of Him, as that of being a holy, righteous King, worthy of our worship. Another important hindrance especially to our personal worship, is vulnerability. Worship is a very vulnerable place to be because when we willingly, totally expose ourselves before God in worship, He will show us our true selves. He will show us our ugliness in direct contrast to His holiness. He will show us how weak and poor we really are in light of His strength and power.
But if we will allow ourselves to be exposed under the light of God's awesome majesty, we will never be the same. Once we have exposed ourselves to the total surrender of unabashed worship before God, it will ruin us forever. No longer will we be able to tolerate a worship experience stifled by traditionalism, denominational codes, cultural restrictions or condemnatory religion.
The Word of God says that God is a "rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). How does He reward those who diligently seek Him in worship? With His manifest presence. Jesus paid the price with His life that we may experience His abiding presence in our lives. But we pay the price for His manifest presence.
Worship is an encounter--it is not a mere ritual. The question I want to leave with you is this: We are comfortable in our churches each Sunday, but is God comfortable?