At the moment, I’m sitting at the table in my apartment, watching the snow fall out my window on campus at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis. We are receiving our third or fourth “snowmageddon” this winter and I’m watching the wind blow the snow sideways out my window. I got to thinking, often this is what it looks like for a follower of Jesus to be worshipping the wrong thing.
It can be easy for someone who is worshipping Jesus to find the fruit of their life revealing something completely different. “I’m worshipping Jesus, but nothing gives me more anxiety than not being the one leading the moment.” “I’m worshipping Jesus, but I keep thinking about what everyone else is doing, and if anyone notices me.” “I’m worshipping Jesus, but I have to be the loudest one in the room.”
If we’re constantly fixing our hearts, eyes, minds, and hands on things that are not Jesus, what are we really worshipping? Are we bowing at the feet of other peoples’ opinions? Of the spotlight that we “need” to feel validated?
That’s not to say that we can’t focus on other things throughout the day, but our worship is not meant to be secularized or compartmentalized into the chapel services or church services that we have each day – our worship is meant to go further.
Worshipping in Maturity
Ephesians 4:13-14 says that we are all meant to grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ, so that we are no longer tossed to & fro by every wind of doctrine, human cunning, and craftiness in deceitful schemes. It’s interesting language because the serpent in the Garden was known as the “most crafty” of all the animals – one who could contort & twist himself into any situation or position and fit any mold. When we grow & develop as followers of Jesus, the fruit is that we are no longer “tossed about” by these things, much like the snow outside my window. However, even in doing our best to follow Jesus, many times we are tossed to & fro by things that distract us – things like the spotlight, need for validation, and pride I mentioned earlier. These things, what we are really worshipping, lead us astray from this firm, sound foundation that develops a maturity in Christ.
To make this even more relevant, consider this: the Bible is specific & clear about gender and the purpose for sex, but the world/culture/our society take quite a different view. In recent years, especially among young people, the cultural doctrine on this topic has become even more widely accepted – even within the Church. We take our love for others and turn it into approval.
For example, in Minneapolis, I have seen more than one church touting the rainbow flags and proclaiming their “acceptance” of all in their church. Of course, we accept anyone and welcome them in, but “blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves” (Romans 14:22). Acceptance and approval are two different things – I can accept & love someone as the person they are, but not approve of their lifestyle or give my condoning to their life choices. I do this all the time with my unsaved friends. Hopefully this is the angle they are going for, but their celebration of “pride” is perceived differently.
Not only this, but even among young students in Bible college, approval of same-sex attraction (not a sin in itself) and same-sex action (sin) has increased, as I’ve even heard on my private Pentecostal Christian university campus.
Often, we can find that when we sway with the world’s doctrine, not only are we exhibiting an immature faith in Christ, but we become more interested in worshipping the world than authentically worshipping Jesus. While the Church is not called to board up its windows and hide in their purity from the world, we are called as followers of Christ, His inheritance, to be pure and to stand for His word & will as revealed in Scripture.
When Jesus hung out with sinners, He didn’t take part in their sin. He didn’t approve of their sin. Rather, He loved them, walked with them, and called them higher. This is a result of His proper alignment with the Father – worked out in proper worshipping of the Father. Today, we often see a higher value of society’s ethics than we do of the Bible’s commands. Even churches are choosing to accept what the world has to offer, vying for unbiblical approval & inclusiveness, rather than preaching the truth in love. Worshipping the world and worshipping God cannot go hand-in-hand (Matthew 6:24) and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24), so one must question the coming fruit.
So, the question remains, what are we worshipping?
Worshipping in Revival
Perhaps for some of us, this season of revival can be a time of repentance and returning to Christ. Returning to His heart, His presence, His word, and His desires. Perhaps for others it can be a time to truly evaluate, “who or what am I worshipping?”. A mature heart questions this, a mature faith stands strong through this, and a mature follower of Jesus will always be pressing deeper into the presence of God to get more of who He is and less of what the world wants.
While I was praying yesterday, the Lord spoke to me about Asbury. I was wrestling with some things that I’ve seen from other leaders on campus and the Lord told me that what was so “beautiful” about Asbury is that they were “letting Him happen”. This meant rather than the striving to put on a show or force God to move or be the center of attention, those at Asbury were just letting God be God… and the Holy Spirit move as He desired. Unlike many, during this season, they had let go of their need to be seen for the sake of His being seen. And this shows that they were authentically worshipping God, not just the national attention. (Further, from what I’d seen & heard, their leadership had done a phenomenal job at getting the logistics of this meeting down – great job Asbury U).
Whenever we have an event like this, a revival or a Sunday service, we must ask ourselves, “what spirit are we allowing to operate here?” Are we making room for the Holy Spirit, or are we putting things together in our own strength and for our own glory?
While the Holy Spirit continues to be poured upon our universities and churches in the US and around the world, we must remember that it is He who brings about true change. Internally to externally, the Holy Spirit is the one working within each & every believer to radically transform lives, families, and nations. And, as we worship God in our daily lives, let us remember to give thanks & praise to the Holy Spirit, worshipping Him equally with God the Father and God the Son.
As we consider what we are worshipping, and how we are doing it, may we always be reminded that Jesus is the center, the goal, and the outcome of our lives. All that we do is for Him, His kingdom, and His glory. May our worshipping Jesus every day remind us of that.