“I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart.”
Heart of Worship – Matt Redman
This evening something happened to me that I need to write about. Before I get into exactly what happened, I’ll tell you how I felt about it: angry. No…that’s way too small a word. My ears got hot. My hairs stood on end. I had a mix of righteous indignation and personal affront the likes of which I haven’t seen in awhile. In short, I was royally ticked off.
Someone in my life had the audacity to call worship noise.
I don’t think they meant to – well, they did mean noise. They argued over the amps. The cymbals and drums. The guitars. Anything that was basically not an organ. “It’s too noisy. I’ve walked out of places like that before. Churches appeared so nice before then all that noise and I didn’t even make it into the sanctuary.” My thought? Okay…contemporary Christian worship isn’t for everyone. If you want something more traditional, that’s fine. Go where you can get it. BUT, don’t call the rest of it noise!!! Okay…Psalm 98:4 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all the earth….” but somehow, I don’t think that’s what this person meant.
“It’s not noise”, I said. “It is noise”, they scoffed back (and I do mean scoff…they kinda had a smug look about them when they did). It went back and forth with me defending the music of this generation and this person calling it noise and nothing more than that. Finally, I jumped to my feet and exasperatedly declared, “Okay…we can not have this conversation. It is not noise. It is worship! If you don’t like it – fine! Don’t go! But I can NOT have this conversation with you because I am so passionate about worship that it is in every fiber of my being. This means as much to me as autism. It’s that important. We just can’t talk about this anymore.”
And with that, I walked away. I mean they had insulted worship!!! My worship!!! Hadn’t they?
The dictionary defines worship as “reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage or to any object regarded as sacred”. Huh…that’s interesting. Understand this: I grew up with AMAZING worship leaders who fully understood the need for a Sunday morning corporate worship as an act of honoring God. There is a way that music connects the presence of God to His people with music in a way unlike any other. The Psalms are full of evidence of just this fact. But, as far as we know, David didn’t have electric guitars or Bethel Live, or 14 different kinds of drum of amplifiers or keyboards. And yet, David is regarded as being “a man after God’s own heart.”.
So where does that leave my anger?
In some ways, I think I was right to be so offended. The church in particular that this person was talking about is a very wonderful place and some of the people on the worship team are people I know and respect. They love God with all their hearts and their lives are the act of worship, not just the music they play on Sunday morning. So, when, in an act of obedience, they play a music that facilitates the ushering in of the presence of God that allows the changing of lives, it is a wonderful thing. Period.
This is not to say that the presence of God is limited to the particular sound of the contemporary or gospel worship team. Matthew 18:20 says, “For, where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am with them.” God is after hearts. That’s what He wants on Sunday morning. Not noise or not-noise. But true worshipers. That’s what God is looking for everyday.
That’s why my anger was also, in part, uncalled for.
I wasn’t being attacked. And, as a beautiful and lovely friend pointed out to me (for which I owe her one million hugs), the calling of God on my life as a worshiper is not invalidated because someone doesn’t understand what worship is (and believe me when I say, I don’t think this person gets it). So, as I prepare my sermon for the worship conference at which I have been asked to speak (did I forget to mention that?), I will remember that if my heart is to remain in the heart of worship, then it doesn’t matter who says what or who understands what. After all…
“It’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus.”