Beware of this Dirty Little Disease

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.  

Why Revelation? 

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! 

Not really. 

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.

About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
This entry was posted in 2theSource, For Pastors, Leadership, Life @ LPC and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Beware of this Dirty Little Disease

  1. Good Stuff Pastor Andrew. It sounds like God is doing great things down in Vancouver. I really miss you up in Olympia, but its all for the kingdom, I am sure we will have plenty of time to catch up in eternity. 🙂

  2. Amy Glenn says:

    This is a great understanding of church culture today, but it’s not limited to worship. Church goers around the world become too comfortable with one way of experiencing Jesus and forget that their ways are not the only ways. Let’s strive not to be these kinds of Christians and instead, be open to experiencing God outside of our comfort zones and let’s see what he does as a result.
    I’m so glad to be apart of a church like this.

  3. Marc Jones says:

    I don’t understand, and I want to. Isn’t the point of offering two kinds of worship expressions to allow people to choose an expression that they prefer? I don’t understand the danger in expressing that preference by choosing an expression. I understand that there is a danger of forming an attitude that the expression that I prefer is better than another (pride), but is the very act of forming an expression preference dangerous? How else do I choose the expression that best suits me without forming a preference and how do I not express that preference by choosing an expression? Ok, I am having too much fun playing with these words, but my point is serious. I don’t need an answer to all of these questions here, but I guess I am saying that we the church at LifePoint (or maybe just me) may need more clarification about this in the future.

    • Marc,

      I think to answer your question(s) in the most basic form as it relates to my thesis in that blog is: “Worship Jesus, not worship.” or “Worship Jesus, not an expression or preference.”

      Being aware and careful to avoid the “Pride over preference” factor is a big reason I wrote that blog-

  4. Bob Metcalf says:

    Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

  5. For me, to worship God must be my entire lifestyle. By that, I mean, I should live to bring glory to God, and not to myself. I prefer the more what is being called contemporary, simply because I enjoy the style of music and love harmonies. That is what I have grown up with, therefore, it is my preference. However, I will not be prideful with that preference toward others who enjoy “today’s” version of church music, which is the choice in the 11:30 service. If the Lord is being glorified with true worship through that style, then so be it! God be praised! ( By the way, this is not a new topic of issue within the church. It has been going on for centuries.)

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