Corporate worship is a beautiful thing. It can be a powerful experience to gather with so many different people to worship the one true living God. There is a great sense of unity when everyone is singing together and focused on the Creator. But how do we worship God in a way that is pleasing to Him?
In John 4:23 Jesus said that the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. In order to understand true worship that pleases God I think it’s helpful to first look at its opposite form. The opposite of “spirit and truth” is “human effort and falsehood.” The Pharisees were experts at this displeasing form of worship. They actually practiced self-worship, not God worship, praising themselves rather than God. It was all about what they had done and not what God had done.
Mark 7:6-8 is arguably the antithesis of John 4:23. It expounds upon how the Pharisees honored God with their lips but had no relationship with Him. It says that their hearts were far from Him. They valued man’s approval more than God’s. They were more concerned about keeping man-made rules and traditions than they were about obeying God. They were religious, not relational.
God is not seeking those who are trying to impress and who appear to have everything together. He wants the ones who realize their need for Him. James 4:6 says that God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. When we acknowledge Him, recognize our need of Him and thank Him for all He has done, we humble ourselves and bring our hearts close to His.
Corporate worship is a place of agreement with our brothers and sisters where we display openly that God is worthy of our praise. Like any worship service, it needs a leader, but in order for it to have the most impact on God and us it helps that the worship leader be anointed.
I’ve learned recently from my teacher Terri Terry that being an anointed worship leader is not a matter of musicianship but of the condition of our hearts in relationship with God. When the worship leader has a humble burning heart connected to God in their private life they can be used to lead others to the heart of God in their public life, just like King David.
Worship leaders have control over the rudder of the ship that is called “corporate worship.” I believe that the more they follow and listen to God in their private life the easier they can hear the Captain of the ship, the Holy Spirit, and the direction in which He is taking us. When worship leaders (and their team) strip themselves of all reputation and die to themselves, Jesus actually becomes the one who steers the ship through them. When we cast away our pride and humbly come to Him I believe that God is free to direct us into the deep waters of the river of life where His power is released to heal and to fascinate us. May God lead us all into true worship, so we’ll never again leave a worship service unchanged.