Matthew 15:8-9 (TNIV)
"These people honor me with their lips but, their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain their teachings are mere human rules."
This morning I was reading a bit in the gospel of Matthew for Chasing99 playing a little bit of catch up from yesterday and I came across this verse. It reminded me of some things I've been meaning to write about for a little while now about worship. I've had the unique opportunity to be involved in some various worship environments leading people in singing. Each experience has given me some different perspectives and some questions raised. I want to share them with you.
The House Show: Many of you know that I sing and write music for the band The Great Rescue (hence the blog name). Recently I had the opportunity to do an acoustic set at a house show with a could good friends of mine. All of us are Christ-followers and enjoy each others company. I set up in the living room of the home and about 20-30 people showed up for things to begin. It's been a long time since I've played a house show. The environment is always strange. There are those outside smoking their cigarettes and cloves and those inside trying to decide if they want to brave the smog on the font porch or go deaf in the living room. Since I was an acoustic set it gave a nice compromise for those in the living room. I got to meet up with some good friends I haven't seen in a long time. Some friends I needed to see.
Much of the music (if not all) that I write for The Great Rescue has to do with finding hope for the hopeless. I like writing music that can bring encouragement to those who need it and draw people toward the only source of true hope, Jesus. During the set I felt like I was healing and attending to more wounds than playing a set at a house show. There were a few with tears. Some that came to me afterwards and talked a bit about the songs with me. I was able to encourage many that night. I felt as though God had placed me in that house in that moment to minister. I was there to draw hearts toward worshiping the true King.
One gentleman in particular came in to the room that caught my eye. He had tattoos on his face and dressed like he was homeless. He stumbled over to me afterwards. It became immediately obvious that his state of consciousness had been altered a bit by drugs alcohol or a bit of both. He slurred, "Hey man that was a good set. You played the **** out of that guitar." I thanked him and we talked for a bit about my guitar playing (he thought it was great... this confirmed my suspicions about his altered state). Then he said, "You sing a lot about God." "Yeah man God changed my life." "God doesn't like me very much." "Dude, God loves you. He has a plan for your life." At this he stopped and thought for a little bit. The said, "I guess God's an OK guy then." "He loves us dude. That makes him way more than ok in my book." He looked at me glazy eyed for a second then smiled. "And God bless ******* Texas!" He started laughing. I chuckled a bit and said, "Sure, God bless Texas." He laughed and turned quickly walking out the door. I may never meet this gentleman again. He may not remember anything we talked about. I hope he does. I hope he holds on to some kernel of truth in our conversation.
I headed out of the house got in my car and made my way to my next worship environment. In this one I wasn't leading. I was participating. Or at least trying to...
The Glorious Unseen: I attend Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and our Student Life department is pretty amazing. They bring in some amazing concerts for free for students all the time. Recently, The Glorious Unseen came and played in the new student center called "The Tilley Center". They were amazing. Ben Crist and crew lead those trying to seek after God in a night of unashamed worship. It's always a beautifully freeing thing to be in the midst of a group of Christ-Followers worshiping God publicly. There was just one problem. There were so many students in the Tilley Center not there to worship. They were talking and so loud that at some points it drowned out the band. It made it difficult to focus. Difficult to worship. There were many there more excited about seeing the band than meeting with God. I remember feeling more able to worship at the house show than I was here in at the Tilley center. Strange. It felt like God's presence was more fluid and alive in the midst of cloves and cigarettes, the hopeless, the broken, than he was in a room full of students coming to a "worship concert". I felt like I was in the middle of these verses from Matthew. I was in a room full of lip worship with no heart worship.
Tussekiah: A few nights ago The Great Rescue had the privilege of leading worship at a youth rally at Tussekiah Baptist Church in Meherrin, VA. It's a small church and there were a little more than 100 people there that night. We were fed and loved and treated better than we deserved. We were loved with the love of Christ. We played a full set of some originals that I was able to explain a bit in VH1 Storytellers style. Then we launched into a full worship set in which the youth and adults came with us in the public worship of our King.
The room ignited.
It felt as though God's presence was thicker than water in the air and the youth and adult unashamedly worshiped. It was amazing to see. It was amazing to be a a part of it.
Thoughts: In each of these three environments worship took place. Some worshiped "gods" of addiction. Others worshiped the God of restoration. Some worshiped with their lips alone. Others with their hearts open wide to heaven. Where is God most pleased?
God is most pleased when His people who are called by His name gather together and worship with their hearts close to His heart and their lips speaking His truth in love.
What about you?
Are you stuck in Lip Worship?