Since 2017 was the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Voice articles were centered on specific Reformers and their contribution to the Reformation and Christian history. I’d like to continue sticking to a theme for this year’s articles. This year our theme will be The Characteristics of a Healthy Church. These are the factors that make a church a healthy one. Each month we will look at a different one. Our first characteristic is: Passionate Worship.
Every church has a ‘worship service.’ At least, that’s what it is called. But how much of that time is spent in actual worship? Singing to God, praying, giving, and hearing from His word are all types of worship that should go on in the worship service. However, are the people really passionate about what they are saying/doing? Are we really singing out to God about how great He is? Are we really excited to hear what He has to say in His word? Or, do we simply go through the motions without any real passionate worship? When I say ‘passionate worship,’ I don’t mean loudness or uncontrollable behavior. What I mean is, truly loving the Lord for who He is and what He has done, and then giving Him worship because of that. God says in Amos 5:21 that He ‘hates’ Israel’s festivals and assemblies because the people’s hearts are not in it. They are just going through the motions, and God does not receive that kind of worship.
A church filled with passionate worship is not just worshiping on Sunday, though. Yes, we gather for corporate worship every Sunday morning and I think that is a very necessary part of the Christian life. You should be gathered with God’s people when they assemble together to worship the Lord. But, worship also occurs at home as well. I would make the distinction by calling it ‘corporate worship’ and ‘private worship.’ Corporate worship is when we gather together as a church. But, private worship is when you are alone with God. Do you have times in your daily schedule when you privately have a time of passionate worship unto God? Maybe you sing to Him in your heart, or read His word daily, or listen to messages in the car as you drive. All of these are times of private worship. People who are passionate about God will make time to have private times of worship with God.
Jesus defined what true worship is in John 4 when He was talking with the woman at the well. He said true worshipers must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We know that worship must be in truth. We cannot worship God speaking or saying things about Him that are not true. Our worship must be Biblically informed and according to Scripture. But, look at the other word: spirit. Jesus is not talking about the Holy Spirit here. He is talking about the inner spirit of a person. Your worship has to come from a heart that truly wants to worship God. Again, passionate worship. God does not want just lip service or the correct form with no heart. He wants the heart of a person, fully engaged, passionately worshiping, according to the truth of His word.
What is the best way to start passionately worshiping if you are not? How do you begin if you seem to be stuck in a rut and just going through the motions? I would say first, tell yourself the gospel over and over again. Remind yourself again and again what Christ went through for you and how you didn’t deserve it. You can’t help but get a passion for God when you realize all He has done for you. Secondly, I would say start studying the character of God in Scripture. See what kind of God we get to worship. He is a God who is kind, merciful, compassionate, gracious, loving, forgiving, etc. A God like that is a God I can get excited about worshiping. Let’s make sure we are a church filled with passionate worship both corporately and privately.
- Pastor Mark Scialabba