Summary: A look at what must be present in order for our actions to be considered worship.
Non-Negotiables of Worship
“I propose we drive a nail in the altar. Or the pulpit. Or the Communion table. Or the organ bench…or pipes. Or the Choirmaster’s music stand. Or any place visible and significantly shocking to provide a counterpart to the ancient door at Wittenberg. When Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the university entryway, the sparks from his hammer ignited the Reformation. Nearly a half-millennium ago, the church was shaken to its roots – dragged by the nape of its neck to confront the reality of God’s Word, and forced to face the fact that its forms had chained its people rather than freed them. We’re overdue for another one.”
Jack Hayford, a pastor, author, and writer of the song “Majesty”, penned these words in the very first lines of his book, “Worship His Majesty”. When I look at the current condition of the church in the United States, especially in the area of worship, I have to agree with him most of the time. We are long overdue for a reformation of our own, and it may take something drastic to do it. However, this reformation can only take place if we are willing to question everything we do down to our very basic activities. To start, we need to ask ourselves one simple question. Why do we come to church? There are many different answers that you could give here, but if you had to sum it up with one short statement, could you do it? We should come to church to give glory to God. We can do this by showing love in fellowship, by learning from His Word, or by singing praises to God. We can do that by giving in the offering, praying, or using our abilities to praise God. Whatever we do here though, our primary focus should be on worship of the Lord Almighty. What kind of worship are we talking about? We are talking about Biblical worship that we find in God’s Word. Turn with me this morning to Psalm 33:1-9 to see what I am talking about.
Sing joyfully to the Lord you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the twelve-string lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, the starry host by the breadth of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; He puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke and it came to be; He commanded and it stood firm.
This morning we are going to take a look at some non-negotiables of worship. These are things we should never forget in our worship times if we wish them to be pleasing in God’s sight. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts today as we uncover these non-negotiables of pleasing worship from our passage in Psalms.
Non-negotiable: Worship Must Be God Centered
One of golf’s immortal moments came when a Scotsman demonstrated the new game to President Ulysses Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turf and scattered dirt all through the president’s beard while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotsman swung, and again he missed. Our president waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, “There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in this game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.”
In golf, the ball is the most important part of the game. After all, until it rolls in the hole, you cannot complete the hole. You can have the finest clubs, technique, clothes, and equipment, but if you do not have the ball, you cannot have a good golf game. The ball is the central focus of the game, and it is usually the most ignored piece of equipment.
In times of worship, we have a similar thing happening. We worry about what instruments we are to use. We wonder about the kind of songs we are going to sing. We become concerned about whether we follow the order of service. We let our thoughts become consumed with these things and we forget about the most important thing. We forget about God and that we are to be doing all of this for Him.
We are reminded time and again that God is to be the center of our attention when we worship. My favorite Scripture example of this is in Hebrews 12:2, and it states, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Let me see if I can give you some practical examples of this. Ladies, when the big game is on television and you want to get the attention of your husband, what do you have to do? Usually, you have to yell. You might have to physically reach out and smack them. You might have to walk in front of the television. Why do you have to do this? It is because they have fixed their eyes on the game and nothing else can take their attention away from it. Their thoughts and minds are so consumed that nothing else matters.