Most middle class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result their meanings and values are distorted. their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot. – Gordon Dahl (pg.112)

When it comes to worship in our modern-day churches, we have a tendency to focus on method, rather than the purpose. This is the underlying truth in the fourth chapter of The Church Awakening.  Swindoll states that when we look at life with a horizontal perspective, it highlights all things human , but if we look at life with a vertical perspective, it highlights all things of God.

Worship can be a touchy subject for a lot of people. When most Christians use the word worship it generally refers to how they worship or where they worship rather than who they worship. Swindoll doesn’t discredit the how’s and where but he places extreme importance on the Whom.

Worship is the personal contemplation and adoration of God. it is the natural response of those who recognize who God is and what He has done on our behalf… When we worship we affirm a deep, personal commitment. That is what God seeks.  (pg. 117)

I must say that i have never thought about worship as a commitment, but a result of my commitment. Swindoll urges the reader to live a lifestyle of worship rather than worshiping as the mood arrives. He calls this the essence of worship.

However, the expression of worship moves us into the methods of worship. This is where we find “the worship war”.

Contemporary vs. Traditional. Piano and organ vs. guitar and drums.  Hymns vs. Praise songs. King James vs. any other translation. Long messages vs. sermonettes.

Swindoll makes some tough claims  in this section that send a lot of individuals on the legalistic/fundamental side to call him a heretic. That’s oka, because the same types called Jesus the same and worse. But like Jesus, (and I’m really not equating Swindoll to Jesus) he tells it like it is and the truth hurts.

If the expression of worship comes from the essence of worship then these “worship wars” really stem from us. We are enamored with ourself and what we want.

Truth be told, the problem at the heart of worship wars lies on both sides of the battlefield. Both camps reveal by their words and actions: “I will worship God only my way! Moreover, you should worship God my way as well!” (pg. 127)

I’ve heard it said before, Sunday is only a corporate expression of what we do all week. So what does this reveal about my heart and yours? Praise is a sacrifice that we give God, not ourselves. Worship is to be  a part of our daily walk with God, otherwise we’re just consumers.

Quotations are from The Church Awakening, Charles Swindoll, 
Faith Words-Hachette Book Group, 2010

About Chuck Mullis

I am the husband of Valerie and the father of Russell & Hannah. I am a self-employed contractor living in rural North Carolina as well as an ordained Southern Baptist Minister serving Living Water Baptist Church.

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