Summary: Are there things in modern worship that actually prevent us from worship?
“I hate going to church. The church is frustrating and boring. It’s full of hypocrites who are just going through the motions.” You might think this is the words coming out of the mouth of a famous atheist or your 16-year-old daughter. These are God’s words. In fact, God tells Israel that instead of being eager to receive His people’s worship each morning, He wishes that they would quit and simply close the doors.
Over the last several weeks we’ve looked at various portions Scripture defining biblical worship. To do that, we started looking at the character and holiness of God, the meaning of worship, and the purpose of worship. We looked at worship patterns in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and we examined how these are actually quite closely related. Then we studied what worship is supposed to accomplish and finally last week we discussed the elements of worship.
But what about hindrances? Are there things that can kill worship? Or are we free to do whatever we want as long as we like it and we love on Jesus? Is that what worship is all about? Are there things or elements that can dishonor God?
Worship is a word today loaded with personal mystery, preferences, and imagination. What the Bible calls us to do is God-centered, Spirit-led worship. In that, worship is not private or personal; it was not designed by God that way. However, our meetings are to be designed to honor God and give him glory publically for our faith.
We’ve defined worship as a response and recognition of who God is and what God has done. This is important because by this definition, the more you know about God and the more you know about His revelation, the more you can worship Him. So worship is not based on emotion. It is not base on feeling, or style, or preference. Worship is not based on your environment or your own righteousness. Worship is based on your knowledge of God (His holiness) and your relationship to Him.
Suppose a husband comes home from work with a Valentine’s Day gift. It’s a cheap plastic figurine from the handy-mart, dressed in an apron, bearing the logo “World’s Best Wife.” Would it be surprising if his wife were less than impressed by this gift, and the gift triggered a serious marital disagreement? Perhaps the man really does love his wife deeply and simply doesn’t know how to show it. But it is also possible that such a gift is a symptom of another, far deeper issue in their relationship (Ian Dugard)
I wonder what God would say about us today? Our houses of worship have become centers of man-made entertainment. Coming to church is not about what you are going to get out of it. It is coming to give something to God-our best. I don’t think it is an accident that the last book of the Old Testament. The place where God’s revelation was sealed up for 400 years prior to the coming of Christ. It was here that God lays out an inditement against Israel for their callous, lassi-fare approach to worshipping Him.
A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! (Malachi 1:6-10)
Four types of hindrances of worship in our lives and our church: Worldly, Withheld, Withered, Wrong Relationships
I. Worldly Worship
Some of us think of worldly worship as a means of style. That’s not the primary image I’m wanting to cast here, although it is possible to do that. My highest criticism of today’s worship is not style, but in devaluing the message. If at any point the worship, either in expounding the Word through preaching or musically portraying the Word of God differently for artistic convenience; or for the purpose of making the message more attractive to worldly desires, we have actually hindered true worship of God, not facilitated it for men.