Has worshiping God been replaced by programs, music, and entertainment on stage? In some cases, yes!
In Spirit and Truth
Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 3:24), but what does that mean? If we worship God is spirit only and have no truth, our worship will be vain or useless to God. On the other hand, if we worship God only in truth and not in spirit, we can become legalists or modern-day Pharisees. Worshiping God must be done in spirit and in truth, or it is not acceptable to God. Worship that is simply going through the motions is no better than having a bunch of friends of Facebook. It means nothing to God if we’re not worshiping God in the truest or most biblical sense. That means we ascribe to God His worth or being worthy to worship and being thankful to God for the great riches He’s provided through Christ. It also means we do not hold musicians, worship leaders, or singers as the center of our attention. Sometimes the show replaces worship, and people come for the entertainment rather than come to be fed by God. The only differences in some cases between worship services and a rock concert is that one is free while you pay for the other, but often, worshiping God is being overshadowed by music, programs, and entertainment.
Music over God
In one church I went to, they handed out ear plugs to everyone that came in…young, old…even to the children, so I thought to myself that “This is going to be loud!” And it was! Without the ear plugs, my ears would have been hurting, and some children even had their hands over their ears, acting as if it was painfully loud (and it was!). Obviously the music was too loud, but something else was happening too. It seemed like the congregation was worshiping the entertainers and not God. It reminded me of an old Lez Zeppelin concert I attended when I was still a youth. I could see little difference between that concert and worshiping in this church with a full band and a host of vocal artists, plus a dazzling light show. As I waited, I wondered when the message would be given, but it wasn’t a really sermon but rather, it was a sermonette. To me, it was about a 10 minute “motivational speech,” so it was only a sermonette for “Christianettes.” I could have just stayed at home and listened to worship music, and, it wouldn’t have hurt my ears. Today it appears that many churches have confused entertainment with true worship of God. Little if anything is said about repentance, confession of sin, growing in holiness, or being Jesus’ disciple and following Him. Rather it seems they are following the artists and their bands and the show has replaced worship.
If worship music focuses on the artists or entertainers and not God, then it’s worshiping God in vain. In the psalms, David often wrote about grieving over his sin, and in deep humility and transparency, but there are also psalms to rejoice too. A talented musician himself, David’s psalms were written as worship music, but he was putting the focus solely on God and His attributes, not the musicians or singers. The psalmist wrote that we should “Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe” (Psalm150:4)! Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD” (Isaiah 38:20), so worshiping God in music and song is not wrong. It’s only wrong when the show becomes the focus and not God. Actually, worship is not about meeting our own needs but about finding ways to express our wonder at God’s holiness and bring Him glory. We are in awe of God. We should never be in awe of worship musicians and singers because they wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t given to them by God (1 Cor 4:7), so all glory must be ascribed to God and never to anyone else. It is “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1)! We don’t go to church to “get” but to give God our best worship, but it can easily become worship of the music and the artists. Anything that takes glory from God and ascribes it to humans, no matter what their abilities are, is robbing from God His due glory, so entertainment can become the show and not focusing on and worshiping Jesus Christ.
If you’re an artist, singer, musician, or whatever, use your talent or gifts for the glory of God and “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name [but] Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb 13:15-16). If you have a skill or talent that can be used in worship services, that’s great, but try to avoid the temptation of being in worship services to becoming part of the show, thereby overshadowing the greatness, glory, and majesty of God. He alone is worthy to be praised. There is no artist on earth that can compare to the glory of God, so let us draw near to God and humble ourselves in worshiping Him and focusing on Christ. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will testify of Him (John 15:26), so we should do the same. Let us stop focusing on putting on a “concert” and trying to fill the pews and focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mar 1:14-15), and try to fill heaven with the children of God.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.