So, if we each have our own unique styles of Personal Worship that God loves to see and hear and feel expressed to Him, how in the world does that play out when we all get together on Sunday mornings for corporate worship? It would seem that, if we each came on Sunday mornings with the purpose of expressing our individual worship to God as best we could, we’d have a big, unorganized mess on our hands…
Thankfully, God in His infinite wisdom put some things in His Book that help guide us as we come together in corporate worship. Corporate worship has two purposes. The primary purpose of all worship is to bring glory to God. No matter what else is going on in our lives, God says that if we’re glorifying Him, everything else is going to fall into place. The second purpose of corporate worship is to encourage everyone else who is with us…that includes those who are already believers and those who have yet to discover life in Christ.
And if we want to accomplish these two purposes when we come together to worship, we’ve got to come with a heart that is ready to lay aside some of our personal preferences and worship styles.
Let’s read and listen to several New Testament passages that were written to the church, and let’s see if we can identify how corporate worship is meant to be unselfish so that God is glorified and people are encouraged.
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
I Corinthians 14:26
26 When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
I Corinthians 10:23, 24
23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But not everything is beneficial.
24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
I Corinthians 10:31-33
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.
33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.
Here’s the deal. God has given us 24 hours in every day, 168 hours in every week to worship Him in whatever ways we like the best….Sunday morning is just an hour or two of that time for you and I. In fact, it’s less than one half of one percent of your week. If you and I can’t learn to set aside some of our own personal preferences for that small amount of time every week, we’ve got much bigger spiritual issues in our lives than simple disagreements about music or preaching styles.
Now, let me state something that is hopefully obvious to most of us. We rarely have problems with this issue here at NHC. I have heard very few selfish comments about our church’s worship style in my 16+ months here at NHC. It is such a blessing to be a part of a body who seems to get this “it’s not about me” principle when it comes to worship, and I think that most of you would agree with me. It’s fun to worship with you every week!
But, just because we don’t hear about it all the time doesn’t mean selfish worship doesn’t exist at our church. I’ll be the first to stand in line and say that I’ve got to check my heart every week before I come to worship with you to make sure that I’m not coming with selfish motives.
And let me tell you something, that can be incredibly hard to do in my position…up here on the stage every week, it would be really easy for me and the others in the band to get a big head and a selfish attitude… And, I’ll be honest, sometimes I do get a big head about it…sometimes I allow worship to become all about me.
Before we come up on the stage each week, the band spends a few minutes in the back double checking our hearts and giving everything that we’re about to do up on stage over to God, asking Him to take all of the glory and to put us in the background.
How about you? When was the last time you thought about coming into corporate worship with an attitude of giving instead of getting? Do you take the time every week to stop and check your heart and your attitudes and to let God know that you’re coming to GIVE Him worship instead of getting your fill of worship.
Whether you love the music style or not, whether you get emotional during a prayer or not, whether you feel challenged by the sermon or not, unless you’re coming to give your worship to God and to encourage the people who are worshipping with you, you’re completely missing the point of corporate worship.
When you leave on Sunday morning, and you find yourself thinking about how much you either liked or disliked what took place, you probably missed the point of worship. Corporate worship is about bringing glory to God and encouraging others. Let me say that again…corporate worship is about bringing glory to God and encouraging others. Get it?
(Tomorrow I'll post Part 6...Check out the other parts of this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)