Summary: This messages continues with the focus on attitudes that hinder our worship.
Worship Is A Verb – Part 3
Last week I covered the first three hindrances to our being able to enter into true worship. The first hindrance that I mentioned was intellectualism. This is the doctrine that knowledge comes from pure reason, without aid from the senses. So the person who practices intellectualism in their form of worship tend to intellectualize their worship and evaluate it based on the purpose, process and implications involved in every aspect of it. The second hindrance was idealism. This type of hindrance is usually based on the supposition that worship is only genuine when it includes that which is familiar to our own cultural experience based on the right formula. The person committed to this attitude believes that true worship can only be that from which they were taught and experienced – deep with traditions from years past. The third hindrance I discussed last week imperialism. This is where someone dominates the affairs of worship by controlling the planning and presentation of the service. Remember when I shared with you the pulpit’s copy of the order of service? As I discussed last week, each of these attitudes have been planted within the Church as a hindrance and oftentimes we do not recognize that these attitudes, that we think are important to our worship experience, are actually hindering us. This morning we will continue with the last four hindrances. Again I remind you of what God said in 1 Samuel 16:7: “…God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
I. Hindrances To Our Worship Cont.
• Isolationism: The fourth hindrance to our worship is isolationism. This one is the hardest to conquer because it is birthed and sustained by fear. I have talked with you in the past about how our enemy will try to get us to feel isolated so that we will not reach out for help in our time of need. He uses fear, embarrassment and suspicions to keep us weary of sharing what we are truly experiencing. When it comes to worship, people feel isolated when their experience is not the same as someone else’s or they are afraid to truly enter into worship. They fear losing control of their emotions, displaying too much emotion or showing too little emotion, fear of being unscriptural and the fear of man. I was talking with my sister last week and she asked me if it was scriptural to shout because she had heard what another minister had said on the subject. Again, people will always try to say what is or is not acceptable based on what they can find in the Scripture. But trying to verify all of the reference points of what we should and should not do leads us into isolationism. Oftentimes when we are in the greatest need of support we will isolate ourselves so no one will know what is going on with us. Consider one situation that Elijah found himself in First Kings chapter eighteen.
The prophet Elijah lived a life that was solely committed to God. He walked and ministered in the power of God, predicting the beginning and end of a three year drought. He stood resolute against the evil king Ahab and Queen Jezebel, predicting their slaughter and unexpected deaths. (Instead of worshipping the true God, Ahab and his wife Jezebel worshipped Baal, the most popular Canaanite god.) In 1 Kings 18, we find a situation where Elijah challenges 450 pagan prophets at Mount Carmel to battle the living, true God, Jehovah. They erected an altar with a sacrifice of an ox and each was to call on their god to consume the sacrifice with fire. Well you know the story, the prophets of Baal called out to Baal all day long to no avail. In the afternoon they began to cut themselves as if their blood would make Baal answer. When evening came and it was Elijah’s turn, he had them fill pitchers of water to pour on the altar: he had them soak it completely until water flowed around the altar and filled the trench. When He called on God, God showed up in a hurry. The fire from God consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust and licked up all of the water in the trench. When the people saw it, they fell on their face and worshipped God and subsequently slew all of the prophets of Baal. Elijah understood the power or God and the wondrous acts that God could perform. Now with this knowledge and his most recent victory, you’d think Elijah would not fear anyone or anything after that. But turn to the 19th chapter and read verses 1-4. After this victory, Jezebel sent word to Elijah that he would be dead by the next day. Elijah became so afraid that he ran for his life and isolated himself. While alone, he threw himself a pity party and asked God to kill him. He feels sorry for himself; he feels alone; and he is afraid. He tells God in verse nine “….I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” When God speaks to him, He reminds him that he is not alone and that there are one hundred prophets who were in hiding that was still faithful to the one true Lord. He also reminded him of the more than seven thousand others who were standing true in their worship of God. You see, Elijah’s isolation led him to depression and a misguided perception of the true work of God and this is what is happening with many Christians today.