we celebrate our options and choices…and we believe we deserve them. we are Americans…and we deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. it is ingrained in us…it is in our collective DNA. the market responds to our wants, needs, and desires. it is like a vicious cycle. we demand…the market provides. we consume…they feed. it is an insatiable appetite continually reinforced by the corporate angel choruses, “have it your way”, “your way…right away” and ”you deserve a break today”. the competing songs ring louder and louder so as to never let us forgot that we deserve everything we want to have…our way…of course. and we are not afraid to remind anyone of our wants, needs, and desires…whew…now take a breath.
this consumerist identity is not seperate from our everyday lives. it is a deeply ingrained collective sense of entitlement that infiltrates every part of our lives. for capitalists…this is a dream come true…a way to market to individual wants, needs, and desires…and make loads of money. for faith communities…this is a nightmare. the unfortunate consequence of the two…and what we are witnessing in the United States in the Christian church…is a tragic intersection between two distinct social entities: businesses that try to satisfy consumer wants, needs, and desires, and churches filled with consumers who are ready and waiting to consume. the result is a vicious cycle in the north american church of satisfying the wants, needs, and desires of their consumers, which many times takes a church to places not originally intended.
worship…for instance…has become synonymous with music and singing. we have “worship” time during our church services…which means we sing together. Christian record labels promote “worship” albums. we cater stylistically to those of the traditional worship persuasion…or the contemporary worship persuasion…or the post-modern worship persuasion…heck…we might even have a “blended” worship service for those who can’t make up their mind. we have churches that advertise through their church name what type of worship they have (there is a church that is called The Country Gospel Music church…i am not kidding!). our understanding of worship has been completely limited to music…and since we are driven by our individual wants, needs, and desires…it ONLY MAKES SENSE THAT THE CHURCH SHOULD OFFER WORSHIP THAT PLEASES ME.
in the new testament…there is a greek word used for worship: proskuneo. proskuneo means to lie prostrate before someone who is worthy. did you get that? it means to take your body and lie flat with your face pressed to the ground in submission to one who is worthy. when i have that sort of understanding about worship…it sounds selfless. it sounds sacrificial. it sounds like i need to understand my position before this worthy one. it sounds like i need to remember that i am dirt with Divine breath. it sounds like it has nothing to do with my wants, needs, and desires…because i have set them aside for the one who is worthy. and all of a sudden…worship doesn’t seem so much like an interchangeable word for music and singing as much as a position that gets ME out of the way and opens the door for God’s Glory and Divinity to finally be welcomed to work through my entire life….my hands…my feet…my voice…
when Paul writes that our battle is not against flesh and bone…but against the powers and principalities of evil…how do you think that battle is fought? it is through worship. it is by our selfish, carnal selves getting out of the way and inviting the Spirit of God to work in us….through us…around us. we are a living sacrifice…continually sacrificing our own wants, needs, and desires and becoming a walking, breathing conduit of God’s blessing, healing, love, and transformation in the world. when you worship through serving…God is breaking down strongholds and invading enemy space by using your hands. every praise you sing together is a spiritual battle for the person dealing with depression sitting next to you. every mile you walk with your legs to visit the orphaned and widowed is your spiritual act of worship. every worshipful prayer offered with the abused wife allows God another avenue to heal a wounded soul. worship is the means by which God is manifest to a broken world in need of healing.
the position of worship is prostrate before a God who is worthy. it is not about you…get it? it is NOT ABOUT YOU! it is not about your wants, needs, and desires being met within the context of a church service. that cheapens worship…and it cheapens what you think a church is all about! let us fall to the ground with our faces to the ground prostrate before God and say…
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.