Summary: Is Worship primarily about God listening to us, or us listening to God?
Listening Through Worship
A certain Jewish couple, looking forward to the birth of their first son, began to argue about what name should be given to their little boy. Ultimately they asked their rabbi to intervene. The exasperated mom-to-be said, "I want to name my child after my father, but my husband wants to name him after his father."
"What is your father’s name?" the rabbi asked the woman. "Joseph," she said. "And what is your father’s name?" the rabbi asked the man. "Joseph," he answered. "Then what’s the problem?" asked the rabbi. "The problem," said the woman, "is that his father was a horse thief, while my father was a righteous man. If we call our son Joseph, how will I know that we didn’t end up naming him after the wrong father?"
The rabbi thought for a moment, then said, "Go ahead and name your son Joseph. Wait until he grows up and see if he turns out to be a horse thief or a righteous man: Then you’ll know which father he’s named for!"
The question we need to ask is this: Which God are we actually identifying with when we come to worship? Is it the God who is Lord of the universe and Lord of our lives? Or is it the "God" who is not much more than a distant name, a manageable deity who is summoned to appear at holidays and at really tough times when all of our other resources have let us down? The one day in seven God.
This is the God Chuck Swindoll described in his book, Improving Your Serve--“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of him to make me like a black manor pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God please."
Worship comes from the old English worth-ship which means "to ascribe worth or value to something or someone." It is startling to realize that everyone worships! Everybody! Everywhere! Worship is the fundamental drive of life. Atheists worship. Infidels worship. Skeptics worship. Even Republicans and Democrats worship. Lawyers, insurance agents, and even Internal Revenue Service agents worship! All people worship for worship is the fundamental difference between humans and animals. Animals do not worship.
The aspect of worship I could cover today could be praise, music style, flow, any number of things, but instead I’m going to speak on the relationship between fact and faith. It is a fact that you are sitting here in the sanctuary. It is also a fact that I am standing here speaking. But it is faith that makes me believe that you might be listening to what I have to say."
LISTENING IN WORSHIP
Where is listening in worship? One person once said..."The Christian is one who listens to God speak before speaking - the Church is a group of listening people." But not listening to the music or sermon merely-- I covered that last week... In a book, Encountering Jesus, the author speaks about "Preaching congregation and the listening pastor"
ILLUS: Listening--Two men were talking over coffee one day. One said: "I’m concerned about my wife. She talks to herself a lot these days." The other said: "Mine does too, but she doesn’t know it. She thinks I’m listening.”
Is Worship primarily about God listening to us, or us listening to God??
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
Notice the bible says “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening...not Listen Lord for your servant is speaking.” Is it possible to be so close to the temple, to spend our lives in the church...and yet miss listening to the voice of God. Is it possible that God is trying to speak to us and we’re pretending to listen? I want to worship in music, and I like to hear inspiring preaching– but I need to work hard at listening to the voice of God. Listening to the voice of God is the most active, most participatory part of any worship service.
Listening doesn’t always mean quietness, but attentiveness. Our senses during worship are more drawn to spiritual things. In the midst of a powerful song, God may speak to you about something in your life. In the midst of a sermon, your mind may be drawn to something the Spirit is trying to speak to you. Go with it... Listening is not about the sermon– but an encounter with God– tuning in to the Spirit.
Much of the church today is based on speaking before listening. There are lots of policies and procedures for speaking in the church but none for listening. Not necessarily quietness– but attentiveness.