WORSHIP IS A LIFE
THIS IS 'ALL COMMENT' as you will see. This post is not meant to deny us the joy of praising Jesus in worship, or to discourage skilled musicians and singers. There is a lot of praise and heaven – but not in order to get anything. I am not advocating a new puritanism here. But I do want to draw attention to where the life actually is and Who it is.
The reality of the Kingdom of Heaven being seen on earth is Christ our life. This is not our diligence in doing good or the bid to be righteous with Christ's help. It is the Spirit of Christ manifesting through you as your life. None of our new covenant living is 'I must do this so that Jesus will do that.' Our life today is 'He has made us one with God so that I as a son can multiply His life.' This is my life, your life and the life of the church. It is the kind of life that routs hell and establishes the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
People ask me 'What do you mean by Christ your life?' This is Christ in you so that your stuff - our stuff - is alive with His presence and eternal life.
Recently I read a post by Dr Stephen Crosby who noted that praise and worship as it is structured today can have the same function that awesome architecture had in the medieval cathedral. It gives and impression of God. It is sweeps up the soul and impresses the mind. But it is not itself the presence of God. Anything not Jesus obstructs our view of Him and deadens our sensibilities.
I'm sure you know that praise and worship is not God. Yet I need to state this because I have seen many people act as though it is. I have seen people treat it as though the praise itself is 'the presence.' And I have been appalled by the poor discernment and lame prophecy that follows it. When we imagine that such actions have a power in themselves, we have inveigled ourselves in what I heard a pastor call, 'us in a trance.' We do well to know that Jesus, Father and the Holy Spirit were in and among us before we got to church and before praise and worship began. We need to live like this. Church is not the point of our life. Life is the point of our life.
Genuine worship is a life lived in His presence - a presence so close that He has by His Spirit blended with us. Much can be made of His presence in song, with the implication that this presence is up on the platform among the praise and worship team or down at the front of the church.
We can repeat as much as we like that God is found in the praises of His people but we are quite mistaken. We live in the new covenant now. God is found in you because He came among and into us at Pentecost and has never departed. Since Christ our life is the heart of new covenant living and the guarantee of the new creation actually occurring, it is crucial that all that is extraneous to Jesus is not relied on to impart life. Why? Because religious things, have no life.
I have been a member of home groups and house churches for many years now. Some have followed the charismatic pattern of praise and worship, message and prayer. Others not. I have seen the Holy Spirit manifest regularly in the 'not' category just as much as in the other. What counts is 'Is this about Jesus?' Are hearts simply desiring 'Jesus and His life?' I have witnessed Holy Spirit manifest around a meal table simply because people were talking about Jesus and His love and power. Once this happened as we were travelling from Melbourne to Adelaide in our car - simply because I was explaining to my daughter why the temple curtain was ripped when Jesus died on the cross. The infinite God is no longer limited to holy times or holy places. He lives in and with us.
Recently we have decided that we are not going to 'do church' in our house church because we do not wish to quench the Spirit of Jesus by a compulsion to 'do church stuff.' I came to realise that I was spending a lot of time and effort putting together worship songs and power points for worship - needlessly. Why because His presence is not dependent on what I do or us singing. He is present because He is and because He loves us.
'I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ' Phil 3.8 NIV.
How often have we dulled our sensibilities and side-tracked our attention by our compulsive 'busy work' like the placement of speaker boxes and microphones before we start - when we could have been resting in His already present, presence? Jesus and Paul did well without the clobber. We can too.