Summary: I want to talk with you for a little while about this subject of worship. And I want us to consider the kind of worship that God accepts.
Maybe you’ve heard the story about the old farmer who went into the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home that afternoon and his wife asked him how it went. "Well," said the farmer, "it was good. They did something different, though. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns." "Praise choruses?" said his wife, "What are those?" "Oh, they’re sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer. "Well, what’s the difference?" asked the wife. The farmer said, "Well it’s like this - If I were to say to you: ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you: ‘Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, Martha, MARTHA MARTHA, the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, the CORN, CORN, CORN’!!! ‘Oh, Oh, Ooooooooh, yes, it’s true, the whole herd is in the awesome corn, yes, it’s true, the whole herd is in the awesome corn, --- weeell, it’s true, the whole herd is in the awesome corn!!! Alleluia! - That would be a praise chorus."...
Probably the one topic that has gained more interest than any other within the world-wide church over the last several years has been the subject of worship. There has been an outpouring of this new praise chorus style of music dedicated to leading us in worship. We sang a couple of those newer songs this morning. A large number of musical artists, both new and old, have made worship the focus of their music. Entire CD’s are dedicated to worship. I have gone to a concert looking forward to hearing the musician sing the songs that made him famous but ended up participating in a worship service. Churches have been born out of a desire to focus on worship. Movements have started with worship as their center-piece. Worship has taken on a massive role in the church world today.
Personally, I feel that this is a good thing in many ways. I enjoy a lot of the modern worship music. I enjoy listening to it. I enjoy singing it. But also, and this may have something to do with the fact that I’m the son of a worship pastor, but it always bothered me when I would hear preachers call the singing part of a church service the “preliminaries.” In days past I think worshipping is music was overlooked as non-important when compared to the preaching. I think we’re coming out of that mindset. I think we’re beginning to realize in a new way the importance of lifting our voices together in worship to our God. I think this focus on worship has been good for us. After all, it is what we’re going to be doing for all of eternity.
But I also feel as though there are some negatives to it. I think in many circles worship has become no more than just a bunch of people, in love with this church entertainment, jumping up and down like a bunch of monkeys. It’s become a lot of empty noise; a lot of meaningless words. It’s kind of like the little boy that knelt at his bedside after coming home from church one night and prayed, “Dear God, we had a good time at church today—but I wish you had been there!” In many cases I feel as though the church has become simply a place that someone could go to once a week and feel good to some enjoyable music. While it’s going on, because it feels so good, we feel like God has been there. But when it’s all said and done, His presence wasn’t even close. In fact, the whole scene was sickening to Him. I think maybe in this effort to revitalize worship in our churches we’ve kind of lost out on the whole meaning of worship.