It breaks my heart, and it must break the heart of God, that for the last couple of decades the church has been preoccupied with what the popular press has called “The Worship Wars.” Even that the two words “worship” and “wars” should appear together describing what is going on in the “ body of Christ” contradicts what Jesus said was the two greatest commandments: love God with all our hearts and love each other because we have come to love the deep core of ourselves.
On the surface this “worship battle” seems to be over musical stylist preferences. Lines have been drawn and walls built right down the middle aisle of our churches (and thus dividing them in two—or more), lines between old and young, traditional and contemporary, hymnals and screens, choirs and worship teams, for and against the musical instruments we use.
But these arguments are only a symptom of a much deeper issue. These are symptoms of a lack of true worship, a falling on our faces before an awesome and present God, for in His presence hearts are melted, passion for purity of motive and expression is ignited, and compassion for each other in and out of the church drives us to respond with practical action.
How I long to be struck dumb because the “glory of the Lord fills His holy temple” and in the presence of the Almighty I find myself on my face saying, as did the prophet, “I am undone! Nothing I say is pure!” And how I long for coals of fire to touch my lips and to know my guilt is gone—taken away! How I want to hear my own voice moved by something in the core of my being, volunteering to be the messenger God needs for this hour and to hear Him say, “Go. Go and tell.”
In the overwhelming presence of the Lord our petty squabbling over stylistic preferences are silenced. We won’t be able to find enough ways to praise him! We’ll be scrambling for instruments, pouring our revelations of His character into all kinds of songs, dancing our way into the streets, scooping up cold water to serve the thirsty, baking bread for the hungry, ripping the clothes out of our closets and off our backs if we have to warm those shivering from loneliness.
It won’t be “our way or the highway” in our worship committee meetings, and we won’t be haggling over whether we are addressing all our songs directly heavenward or giving personal testimony to how in the world we know that He is Lord and living out our praise in how we treat each other. It will be all of the above and more.
Worship is an ego meltdown, and rising like a phoenix from the ashes of our shriveled old selves will be an awesome pillar of light that the sick old world can see a thousand miles away and will be drawn to like a magnet. There will be music! There will be joy! There will be grace and forgiveness! There will be mercy! There will be Life!