When we stand in the presence of God we cannot help but be changed. This can be an emotional experience. Or not.
As a worship leader, I often look into the congregation to see who is “really worshiping.” I am programmed to expect hands raised or at least hearty voices. If there are lots of hands raised, lots of loud singing, and especially if lots of people come to the front, then we know that God has really moved.
Even when people worship God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and consciously try to include each element in their Sunday experience, their own personality may express this in a subdued way. God is meeting them where they are.
We so underestimate God. We expect people to respond in a certain way and for God to be waiting for that response. There’s no biblical reason to think this. Don’t get me wrong. God responds to us, but He also works when we don’t even realize it.
The words of worship in our ears and the sight of worship before our eyes impact us on a pre-conscious level, just as the TV programs we choose to watch or the music we choose to play. That someone has managed to get up on a Sunday morning and get through the door of the church has put them in a place to be changed.
That’s why the content of our worship is so important. Worship shapes belief. In the words of Rich Mullins, “I believe what I believe is what makes me who I am.” This is ultimately the more important impact of worship – lasting far beyond the emotion of the moment or the feeling of a touch from God.
For many, the biggest transformation needs to be a transformation of perspective. Worship that is not first and foremost about God is not worship at all. If we are worshiping because we want or expect God to do things for us, we have miss the whole point. Worse, if we are creating a worship environment in which we expect God to manifest Himself in a tangible way, we are simply trying to manipulate Him. God wants worshipers, not manipulators.
The exploration of these topics is one of the reasons I’m blogging again.