Before you read on, please watch the above video.
Last Sunday our worship pastor sang this song in our service. I had heard it before but it had been a while and oh my goodness did it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was immediately challenged to examine myself and look for any idols that may have inadvertently been set up in my own life. This is never an enjoyable process, but one that is constantly necessary in our lives. Think about these lyrics.
Anything I put before my God is an idol. – Truth that isn’t terribly hard to contemplate.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. – Starting to hit a little bit closer to home here.
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol. – And I’ve now been punched right in the gut and the wind is knocked out.
Those three lines wrecked me last week. Is there anything in my life that I put before God? Is there anything that I want with all my heart that is not God? Is there anything that dominates my thought life that is not God? Those are HARD questions to ask yourself and even harder to answer them honestly. What makes it even harder is when we discover that we’ve made an idol out of something that is actually a good thing. The problem is we’ve made a good thing into a god. YIKES!!
We live in a culture that has what I like to call the Burger King mentality. We want it our way, right away. (Sorry if you now have the image of the creepy Burger King mascot in your head now.)OK….not really sorry!
To get back to the point, let me share something that I came across in a worship leader forum that I am part of on Facebook. Someone posted a screenshot of something he saw on his Facebook feed. It was a person from his community that posted how much they enjoyed visiting a certain church because they heard some good singing. They went on to say how much they miss hearing Southern Gospel because that is what feeds them.
Let me first say that I have no issue with the person’s post about enjoying a particular style of music. We all know that we could all substitute our favorite genre in place of Southern Gospel. We all have a worship language that is the most comfortable and familiar to us. We can’t change that. I think that we should certainly be open to getting outside of our little box and realize that the language of worship is far more expansive than our preferred genre. So, understand, this is not a post about which style is better. When it glorifies God, it’s all good to me. I was raised on Southern Gospel and while it is not my favorite genre at this stage in my life, I have a healthy respect for the artists that keep that genre alive and well.
What troubled me was the first comment that someone had put underneath of this person’s post about enjoying the music at a particular church. The comment was that maybe they should open themselves up to finding a church that sings their kind of music. Essentially, the style of music was the basis for deciding where to attend a church.
I’m not naive enough to think that worship style doesn’t play a role in how people decide where to attend church. Of course it does. That being said, I hope it’s not the only factor. If it is, worship style has become the idol. See how quickly and easily that can happen. Within the church I have seen idols made of worship styles, senior pastors, staff members, interior design (I’m not kidding on that one), Sunday school teachers, deacons, and any other thing you can think of.
My prayer for myself first, and then for my brothers and sisters in Christ is that our worship experience would be all about Him and not about satisfying our whims and desires. The reality is that if we are obedient to His call with regard to where we worship, He will satisfy us so much more than any of those other things can. It’s all about trusting His wisdom over our desires. It’s not always easy.
To wrap up, I want to share one more song with you. It’s a song that, in my opinion, is a reflection of what our response to God’s presence should be. When we ‘Clear the Stage’ and get rid of the idols, all that’s left is Jesus. Before Him, all we can do is stand amazed!