From here on, worshipping the Father will not be a matter of the right place, but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
The problem with writing or speaking about corporate worship – or even worship in general – is trying to find all of the words in the English language to encompass what worship is, and what it looks like, and how it is played out. The pouring, soul conversation that comes from worship can feel so small coming from human lips, so tiny in comparison to the grand, life-giving, thirst-quenching, created-and-born-to-do-this Spirit activity that is worshipping the Creator of the universe. It exists outside of this subjective viewpoint, that there is more to it than even the human mind can comprehend.
The worship that is extended to God is just as personal as each relationship is with him. It is a unique expression and experience. There are dynamics and layers within corporate worship, movable pieces and hidden treasures; subjective viewpoints that can be taken or left, a symphony that comes together with different tunes, hearts, minds, ideologies.
The existence of God is objectively true. Worship in its purest expression is to worship God in spirit and truth objectively true.
The experience within worship, the ways in which we worship – these things can be counted as abstract. And this is why there is so much to unpack with we look at corporate worship.Because we are a human race who bring different hearts, minds, and bodies to the table.
We bring different experiences, different moments, and different cultures. So worship, then, as experienced and brought out by one culture as being more Spirit-ordained than the other? Corporate worship as a copycat, karaoke version of Western cultures expression being certified as righteous, stamped with a brand of validity?
Can anyone say pigeon-holed?
I am not saying that Holy Spirit infused worship is a subjective truth. That simply wouldn’t fit with fundamental theology. What I am saying is that the lens we view worship with will be different for every person, and we must be careful with the way that we approach listening to others viewpoints. Each person’s expression and ways of carrying out that expression will be different. It will be as unique as their experience with the Creator.
Their view of personal expression in worship is important and worth honouring because if we have been created to worship, this is the expression of their very purpose.
Worship becomes to me the picture of a blanket, the voices being lifted to heaven and God dwelling among the praises of His people, with some feeling the warmth, others feeling the weight, others feeling softness. The blanket is not what is changeable, rather it is the experience that is different for everyone. Corporate worship is a wonderful thing; something to aware of and awakened to. But corporate worship is still a gathering of individual hearts.
We have to know this, have to grasp this, that our worship to God is so deeply personal that to generalize is to make a mockery of it; in worshipping our Creator we are worshipping the One who scrawled and embedded uniqueness right into the very lines of our palms.
Our culture can widely shape our understanding and framework for how worship should be played out; but this is always simply a means to an end. The power is not within the song or the words as they stand alone, but in the intent of the heart and the Spirit behind which those words are sung.
The power is not within the cultural expression, not within the lights, or the sound. It is solely in God, inhabiting the praise of a heart so open, and so willing to worship that everything else seems secondary. At this point, there is no desire for anything less than authentic worship. Copycat worship tastes like bitter coffee. There is no interest in stale, tired words. No interest in spontaneity for the sake of a well-rounded set and a stamp of approval from a congregation.
This authentic worship changes everything. It takes the human heart to a spiritual, intimate place with Jesus. It calls people into new life and to shout for triumph into the goodness that has been bestowed upon them. It is a weapon, a fierce sword that slices off anything that is not from God. It is a conversation with the Savior, a weeping in the space that is created for one heart and one God, a freedom, a battle cry, a resting place.
This is what will transform our lives, if we let it, for this is what worship looks like when the King truly has entered the room. And although worship is our offering, our expression, our heart, it is still his and he determines the direction and position in which we worship.
Like anything we can experience and know about God, there is always more to uncover and unpack; and yet in the this way let us be people who simply want to worship Jesus.