WE are to worship, by Gwen Howell
Growing up in the church, I got to a point where I thought the goal in worship was to have a personal, private moment with God. I would close my eyes and try to step away from anyone that I was standing near so that I could raise my hands without worrying about slapping someone accidentally (because my eyes were closed).
While emotions should be a part of a worship service, I realized that I relied on them to have this “moment.” I needed the lights to be dim enough that I couldn’t see the people around me and the music to be loud enough that I couldn’t hear other people singing around me. I relied on the emotional moments of the music to raise my hands and truly have my “moment”.
I’ve observed that most American Christians have this similar mindset at some point in their walks. Because of this, it is common for worship to become emotionally driven. This is especially true for women, and since men seem to be less emotional, they often don’t engage in worship at all.
With this culture of worship, if we engage in it at all, it will bring us to be in tune with our emotions. However, being in tune with your emotions does not make you in tune with others or with God. So how is a congregation supposed to get in tune with God and each other?
Here’s what A.W. Tozer, a 20th century theologian and pastor, writes about this:
“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.”
In order to be unified as a body, our hearts must be tuned to God’s. In the 18th century hymn Come, Thou Fount, the singer’s prayer is that God may “Tune my heart to sing thy grace.” If we are to be in tune with ourselves, we must be in tune with each other. If we are to be in tune with each other, we must first be in tune with God.Unity is a goal in the church. I have had many coffees and meetings with people planning ways for our communities at TCC to flourish. Worship and the singing of songs is not typically something that is brought up as an idea but the more I read, the more I realize the necessity of this. Look at these verses:
“Address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” -Ephesians 5:19
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” -1 Corinthians 3:16
Notice how both of these passages mention admonishing and addressing one another through songs. Worship cannot be only an individual experience, it must be about the community.While it is my inclination to make worship an individual experience, I think it is possible to lean to the other extreme as well, which is to make it too much about community.
Tozer’s quote continues:
So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” -AW Tozer
So while we are not to become individualistic worshippers, we are also not to become “unity conscious” worshippers.
WE are to worship