At Table of Grace we are currently in a sermon series called “Unboxed” where we are identifying the various ways we place limits on God. This past Sunday we discussed some of the boxes of worship that have the tendency to form.
The Box of Style:
Some of us grew up in traditional worship services, some of grew up in charismatic worship services, some of us grew up in contemporary worship services, and some of us didn’t grow up in church at all.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that we all have different perspectives and preferences based on our own traditions and backgrounds.
Sometimes we get in “worship wars” because we think that one style of worship must be superior or more effective than another. But really all we’ve done is formed a box.
The Box of Time: Some of us have preferences about when worship should occur. Should it happen on Saturdays? Should it happen on Sundays? Should it happen at 11:00 AM or maybe at 6:00 PM?
And we begin to form another box.
The Box of Quality:Sometimes the box we form has to do with the quality of worship. We set benchmarks and expectations, and if a certain worship experience doesn’t meet that bar, then it’s worthless because we check out. We’ve formed another box.
Style. Time. Quality.
Do you see what each of these boxes has in common? Each of these boxes is formed when we become the center of worship, and not God.
When we’re the center of worship, the style of worship has to meet my needs.
When we’re the center of worship, the time of worship has to meet my needs.
When we’re the center of worship, the quality of worship has to meet my needs.
But what about God? Where is God in all of this?
When God is the center of the worship, the style doesn’t matter. If it’s honoring God, and engaging God’s people in community, then it’s working.
When God is the center of worship, the time doesn’t matter. In fact, when worship is honoring God, then it’s not confined to just one hour every Sunday. Worship becomes a lifestyle in which we offer our bodies as living sacrifices that are pleasing to our Creator, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When God is the center of worship, the quality doesn’t matter. Hear me out on this. There’s a fine line between the pursuit of excellence—giving God the best we have to offer with the gifts that God has given to us—and the vain judgment that occurs when we say, “This isn’t good enough for me to truly worship.”
We get so into habit of comparison that we’ve lost sight of a theology of enough. When we compare ourselves to what other churches are doing, or we compare ourselves to what has happened in our churches in the past, we blind ourselves to the new things that God is doing right here, right now.
Am I saying we should stop striving to improve and become more and more excellent in our worship? No, not at all. Think of it like a human being who is trying to become more and more mature, and is trying to become the best person he/she can be. Just because you are trying to become better doesn’t mean that you aren’t currently We can always get better. But we’re also always good enough today.
perfect, just the way you are.
What would happen if we truly made God the center of our worship? It might not always be comfortable and familiar, because it might mean having to experience a new kind of worship that is outside our preferred box.
But it’s often in the moments when we aren’t as comfortable as we’d like to be that God surprises us and moves us in new ways.