Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gospel Show Vs. Glorious Praise

     Someone told me once that it is possible fall off the road on both sides. It seems that there is balance to everything. For example, humility is a fine line between being boastful and having a low view of one’s self. Likewise, The Bible is full of paradox. A paradox is like a contradiction except that both are true. An example of this is that God is both merciful and just. The two don’t seem to go together very well, and yet both are true. Hebrews tells us that the bible is, “sharper than any double-edged sword” (4:12). There two sides to just about everything. In some ways we need to be careful to walk down the center of the narrow road. In other ways we need to carry the truths from both sides in order to walk forward. 

     I had the opportunity lately to worship in one of those really big churches. You know, the ones with the coffee shops and bookstores and a million people. As I walked in I was excited because I wanted to see the worship band play and the huge digital sound boards at the back of the sanctuary. It was quite a show, and as I sat there I remembered hearing a good friend of mine preach. He talked a little bit about going to the gospel show, and how so often our church services, even our Christianity is about going to the gospel show once a week. It’s not much different than going to a movie theater. You go in you sit down, you are entertained, and you hurry to leave before the traffic gets bad. If this is the extent of our Christianity we are in trouble.

     However, there is good scriptural backing for large flashy displays of worship as is often seen in mega churches (in fact I think the church I went to did an awesome job). As I look at the Psalms and passages such as I Chronicles 16, which describes a worship service after the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, I see great productions of worship. Psalm 66:2 says, “Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!” Psalm 33:3 says, “…Play skillfully and shout for joy.” Psalm 150 gets ridiculously loud. The difference between a gospel show and these passages is that here the focus of worship was not lost. (Fun little side note to study: in 1 Chronicles 15, Michal looked out to see the “show” and didn’t like it very much)

     I think the error of having a gospel show is on one side of the road and the error of having un-glorious praise is on the other. We need to be careful that our church services are not entertainment focused, but instead a life-changing meeting with our creator. Likewise, we should let God’s praise be glorious without going to far and loosing the focus of our praise. It is a fine line to walk, but I think it possible to do.

Every part of our worship service should be questioned: How does it glorify God or enhance our worship?