The worship journey is a fascinating one, but not always for the reasons you might expect.
Who knew that a desire to go deeper with God would inspire “wars”? Or that churches would feel compelled to create genre-specific musical ghettoes in order to cope?
“It’s too loud.”
“It’s too mellow.”
“It’s so shallow.”
“It’s so outdated.”
Of course, no one ever stops to consider (much less admit) that we all have this tendency to make everything about us, and our own likes/dislikes.
Somewhere along this journey, there exists the pitfall of becoming a worship snob.
Perhaps some of you can recall hearing the phrase “we sing songs to God, not songs about God.” This new-found sense of intimacy in worship was a breath of fresh air. We were experiencing worship in a new way by singing to Jesus, so obviously we had now cornered the market on intimacy with God.
And, without realizing it, we became worship snobs.
And yes, there were critics, decrying this intimate worship as nothing more than frothy “Jesus is my boyfriend” syrup. (Honestly, they weren’t always wrong.)
Of course, the Psalms confirmed for us that even that manly King of old—David—wrote songs that boldly proclaimed, “I love You, Lord, my strength …” (Psalm 18:1). So, somewhere in the middle—intimacy=yes, syrupy=no—there should be modern worship songs where we tell God how much we love Him (ever heard of the Great Commandment?).
But the problem we faced was our worship snobbery, in thinking that we were more authentic because we had discovered “real” intimacy in our worship.
Later, we learned all over again that life—this side of the Kingdom coming in its fullness—is hard. Freakishly hard, at times. And we again turned to the Psalms, and discovered just how many of Israel’s worship songs were laments. This broadened our worship repertoire, or at least, it should have.
Instead—however unintentionally—we became enamored with the Lament. Wallowing in it. Parading our pain and questions before God as if only that constituted “truly authentic” worship.
And, once again failing to notice our snobbery, we looked down our enlightened noses at the trite-ness of “happy clappy” ditties that other churches used.
Until a certain Sunday when a visiting worship team led us in exuberant praise and celebration, after which one of our friends remarked, sheepishly, “I’d forgotten what the ‘joy of my salvation’ even felt like!”
And shortly afterward, we rediscovered all over again the power of the Psalms which spoke about God, His love, His faithfulness and His never-ending mercy. Imagine our chagrin to realize that all three elements are represented in the oldest book of worship that we have: the Psalms.
Songs of praise about God. Songs of intimacy with God. Songs of lament, questions and pain brought to God. All considered “worship” in God’s eyes.
The worship journey is a fascinating one. We would learn so much more if we approach it with humility and an open heart.
Lord, save me from becoming a worship snob.