Rev. Shirley Corley LaCour
By Rev. Shirley Corley LaCourMinister of Praise and WorshipBethel A.M.E. Church
Scripture Reference: Psalm 66: 1 - 4 and 2 Corinthians 3:18
In many churches, our time of worship begins with a call to worship. Sometimes, the choir will sing, sometimes there will be special praise songs, or the congregation stands and sings the wonders and love of God. The call to worship signifies to all in attendance that we have come to worship and now is when we start.
In Psalm 66, we find another call to worship as God issues an invitation to worship Him. The Psalmist is direct and inclusive as the invitation encourages us to, "make a joyful noise and sing forth the honor of His name."
We, as the church of today, have the privilege of praise and worship. The worship format is much discussed and debated in religious circles, but the call is not a forum for discussion. Rather, it an instruction because it's not about you, it's about God.
He is an Awesome God, He is a Great God. He is the Creator & Sustainer of all that is. Our God is worthy of worship. The joy in praise and thanksgiving in song is the realization of the awesomeness of God and culminates in worship.
Yet, today's philosophy is to get as much power as possible and submit to no authority, so there is a lack of respect for authority and the things of God are on the decline. Yet, God is worthy of our praise and worship because He is so much greater than we are. And Worship is not merely an action to be performed. Worship is heartfelt and offered, not out of compulsion, but out of privilege.
Today, the debate has become greater than the worship as many churches are so concerned with "how" and have mixed up "who." We promote our own agendas and personal preferences and have lost ourselves in debates, when it's not about you or me.
God is not concerned with whether we use hymns, praise choruses, or instruments to praise Him. The call is simply to "worship Him;" and lay aside our personal desires and protocols and pick up the attitude of gratitude in an attitude of praise, for God inhabits the praises of His People.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul gives us three realities that point us to the heart of worship. First, our life's privilege is to receive Christ. Seeing God in all of His Glory is the primary goal of worship. It is a privilege to receive Christ because in Him we behold the glory of God continually.
Second, our life's purpose is to reflect Christ. We exist as Heaven's advertising agency, promoting the glory of God in every area of our lives. The heart of worship thus demands that we remain unknown in order to make God known.
God gives us abilities and gifts that we might utilize them to reflect His glory. Unfortunately, some of us are busy building our kingdoms, instead of God's Kingdom. God did not bless us to compete with Him, but to reflect Him.
Third, our life's priority is to resemble Christ. Through Christ we behold the glory, we reflect the glory and we become the glory. Worship represents the primary means of our transformation into the image of God as the Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out.
This is what Christianity is all about, but some church folk don't seem very charged up about Jesus, when the difference between a growing church and a dying church is "Jesus."
Church growth can be enhanced by a great location, but a great location won't insure church growth. Slick advertising, super programs, television and radio commercials, internet e-blasts and high pressure evangelism may draw them, but only Jesus can keep them no matter how excellent the choir, the preaching, the large sums of money on hand or the well organized mission statement.
It is believers living an active faith by the Holy Spirit of God and testifying of the power of God to the glory of God and listening to the Word of God through worship. Worship is the privilege to receive Christ, the purpose is to reflect Christ, and the priority is to resemble Christ to the glory of God in our lives.
That's why you ought to praise Him and thank God that it's not about you.