by John Hampton
For many years now, churches in America have been involved in what has been dubbed “worship wars”—something the Bible never mentions. It has been noted, however, that the first homicide in the Bible was over how to approach God in worship. Perhaps that should have been a clue!
Most debates about worship are really just indirect ways of talking about ourselves, not God. Our discussions usually devolve into little more than spiritually-cloaked preference lists for how we like our worship served up each week. It’s worship as consumption rather than offering. It’s more about an expression of human tastes than about a longing to reflect God’s glory. It’s what I call “iChurch.”
The iPod has forever changed the way people listen to music. No longer is the music listener required to buy an entire CD to enjoy her favorite song. You now have instant access to millions of songs, and can download them in seconds. So wherever you are, you can pop in your personalized ear buds, punch your personalized playlist, and get lost in the personalized sounds you want to hear.
That’s how most of us approach worship. We want to hear our personal playlist of spiritual songs. We have convinced ourselves that God likes what we like and doesn’t like what we don’t like. It turns out that God’s tastes are the same as my tastes. How convenient! There’s an old saying: The biggest difference between God and you is he doesn’t think he’s you.
Beyond the Door
In Revelation 4:1, John is invited to step through a “door standing open in heaven.” And what is behind that open door in Heaven? A worship celebration the likes of which we’ve never experienced. God is clearly the object and focus of this gathering, for he alone is worthy of receiving perpetual praise.
Worship isn’t about serving self. Worship is about seeing God. And when we finally do see him in all of his glory, we will gladly lay down whatever we have treasured in honor of a greater treasure: being with him.
John Hampton is the lead minister at Journey Christian Church in Apopka, Florida. John and his wife Melinda have two daughters, Anna (24) and Rachel (19). John is vice-president of the 2011 North American Convention to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 5-8.