I woke up this morning thinking about the book of Revelation. There are some amazing things in the book, although it is certainly among the most misunderstood in Scripture. It is, from beginning to end, a book about Jesus Christ. Its focus is His kingdom, His glory, and the consummation of His redemptive plan for all of history. These are the primary themes of the book.
The reason I was thinking about Revelation had to do with a recent birth point we’ve had in our church, as we’ve launched a second worship gathering and new weekly worship “expression.” We’ve gone from one main Sunday morning gathering to two, from one style and expression of worship to two. The primary differences have to do with music, sound, lighting, and obviously time. Meeting at 9:30am is our “contemporary” expression, while at 11:30am we have our “progressive” expression.
In the 5th chapter the Apostle John (the author of Revelation) gets the honor of being a “fly on the wall” inside a heavenly worship gathering. Here is what he sees:
9And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
If you read on, you find that after about 45 minutes of this, they adjourn the gathering, connect in the lobby, and then in chapter 6 they get back together and do it all again! Only the second time they do it a little louder, the lights are down a little more, the drum cage is gone, and it is much more guitar driven. Pretty amazing stuff!
What they do in chapter 5 is the same thing they did in chapter 4. It’s the same thing they do throughout the book of Revelation, the Psalms, and the rest of Scripture. They glorify God. They exalt Jesus. They express HIS glory, honor, power, worth, and wisdom. It is beautiful. It is God-focused. It is Jesus-exalting. It is an expression of pure worship to the only one worthy of such.
I know what you’re thinking: “Then why is it necessary for us to have two different expressions of worship? Why have different music styles?”
My answer: Why not?
I believe that there are multiple ways of expressing glory to God through music. I believe that as we learn this, while remaining united, we will mature as a church family. For some the blending of voices and rhythm of the piano helps them step into a Revelation 5 focus on God. For others, the pulsating triple-digit decibels of an electric guitar solo engulf them in God-honoring and God-exalting exhilaration. These are equally valid and truly significant ways of expressing worship to God that is focused on His character and glory.
But there is danger lurking in this happy medium of multiple worship expressions. The danger is a dirty little infection called Preference. The infection of Preference breeds the disease of Consumerism. Consumerism is a sin-exalting, flesh-absorbed, idolatry-producing, community-destroying disease that is highly contagious among 21st-century American churchgoers. It feigns worship of God, while it truly exemplifies worship of self. It kills community by developing an “us and them” mentality. In the name of allegiance to Preference, many an unsuspecting Christian has wandered down the road of self-righteous arrogant duplicity. Beware above all else of the temptation toward Preference masking itself as legitimate worshipful expression.
I’m excited for the coming months at LifePoint Church. As we learn to express ourselves in multiple ways, I know God is going to grow us significantly. But let us walk prayerfully and humbly, always being aware of preference allegiance. Our allegiance must remain to Christ, His glory, this church family, and the mission He is accomplishing through us. Remember, we exist to glory God as a community being transformed by Jesus Christ. Love it, live it, lead it.