Over the years, we’ve all discovered difficulty with worship…you know, full-on, unreserved worship of God.
My latest worship challenge was our recent election season, where I allowed the mudslinging and fear mongering to build walls in me to the point I didn’t even want to worship. Every time the Lord has led me to tear down these kinds of walls, He’s revealed to me how I was the one who built them in the first place. In this article, we’re going to deal with these spiritual walls that infect our attitudes and destroy our worship, in the hopes that we can all stop building them and open ourselves up to worship our lord and receive from His Spirit freely.
Worship In Spirit And Truth
If we’re going to have worship without walls our first objective must be to understand what worship is, in the first place. One person described worship to me as loving God. While this is true, it’s too vague a notion to define worship. After all…I love macaroni and cheese, but I don’t worship it (I hope). To put a slightly finer point on it without getting too dogmatic, I believe worship is everything you do out of love for God. This is true worship! So, if you go on a hike (even on Sunday morning) and express love for God…you’re worshiping. If your gardening causes you to express love for God, it’s worship. Things we never think of as worship take on a whole new meaning when our motivation or our experience in doing them expresses our love for God. I have worship fishing trips every couple weeks, because everyone around hears of my love for God every time I catch one.
On the other hand, if we do things we think of as worship out of a motivation other than love for God, we’re actually building walls that separate us from God and block true worship. Paul gives a great example about giving money to God, where he says for us to give cheerfully, not out of compulsion or duty. He was letting us know, giving is not an act of worship unless it is done out of love. If we perform acts of worship out of duty, we’re not worshiping God in truth, but deceiving ourselves and building walls of resentment that block our spirits from receiving His blessings. Many of us attend and take our children to churches, not because we or they want to, but because we think we have to go there to worship God. This is actually spiritually harmful to ourselves and our kids because of the walls it builds in our hearts. When worship goes from “want to” to “have to” it stops being worship and builds walls of resentment that prevent us from worshiping in spirit and truth. I remember once, while praying out loud in a group, I was wondering what the senior pastor felt about the prayer I was making. It was at that moment God let me know I wasn’t worshiping in spirit and in truth but just making pretty words for a man. I had erected the pastor as a wall between me and worship of God. When we worship, it doesn’t matter where we go as long as we can go to Him in spirit and in truth…without walls.
Walls In The House Of God
Some call it a house of worship, others a house of God. I guess king David was the first to come up with the idea that we should take everyone’s money, pool it, and build a house for God. God appreciated it, but told David He thought it was a little silly. Imagine us trying to build something big enough to shelter the Creator of the Universe. David loved God so much he was willing to try…and his willingness was an act of worship. Sadly, the walls of that house (built by his son), over time, became an idol for God’s people and blocked true worship. They became enamored with the “bells and whistles” of ministry and forgot the God those things had pointed to. Sadly, the same is true of Christian practices today. It seems the older the denomination the more elaborate and ritualistic the bells and whistles. But, whether it’s a golden crown and cathedral or a Hawaiian shirt and a tent, if we let them get between us and God, they’re walls and not worship.
In my first ministry post, we had just completed a new church building and got an opportunity to minister to a “Twins” club by letting them use our facility for a sale of used twins stuff. One of our church “elders” told me she was concerned we were “changing money” in the house of God. Funny, she had no problem with church offerings, church ticket sales, and church teenagers playing basketball in the building, but drew the line when someone outside of our church was to be blessed by “God’s House.” Considering Christ called us to love and good works as a testimony of Him, which do you think was a genuine act of worship, letting an outside group who couldn’t afford it, use the building, or telling them the building was reserved for God? When we greedily hold on to things which represent God, we build walls around our hearts which prevent the very worship we think we’re performing.
Worship Requires Faith
As we grow in faith, we begin to realize things we thought were acts of worship weren’t, and things we thought worldly were truly acts of worship. We were taught by our elders to love created things, like crosses, the bible, the church building, even the minister, all as acts of worship. Yet, those things are dust, and to love them is idolatry. Should I love my wife or the picture of her on my desk? Through faith, though we haven’t seen Him, we should love Christ, His Word, His people and His Spirit, instead of the images that represent them. How backwards I still am to confuse a book with His Words. There is nothing holy about the book…it will burn…but His Word enters every fiber of our being, holds all things together and goes on forever. His Word says not to worship things that were created, but, here we are, manufacturing new idols as fast as we can, whether they be buildings, or books, or crosses or fishes. God, give us the faith to ignore the things that are seen and worship you, who are unseen. It’s faith that enables true worship, not in a place or a person or a thing, but in the One True God. It’s faith that tears down walls and ends new construction, making it possible for us to please God. By faith, when viewing a sunset or a deer, our hearts cry out in love of God. By faith, we avoid the religious compulsions and idols and, instead, we learn to worship God in our every act and thought, because worship is everything we do out of love for God…free of walls.
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About The Author:
Glen Williams is Webmaster at http://www.web-church.com and CEO of E-Home Fellowship (EHF), Inc. He is an ordained minister who has been active in Christian ministry since 1989, counseling and helping people live in Christ. You can comment on his articles at Web-Church Christian Forums.