Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Restoring the Heart of Worship . . .

Whom Are You Following?

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 03 April 2009

"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
~ 1 Corinthians 11:1

We all have someone -- or several people -- in our lives to whom we look to for guidance in one way or another. Whether it be guidance in our career, our parenting, our hobbies, or (most importantly) our spiritual growth - we all have someone we admire and learn from...
Besides my husband,
I happen to enjoy the ministry and teaching of
John Piper.

And when the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he knew this. He knew that people imitate those whose guidance they seek. People do emulate their leaders and Paul knew that the people in Corinth were trying to be like him and heed his teachings. For this very reason, Paul wanted to make one thing clear: that he should not be followed in word or in deed unless he was in accordance with what Jesus Christ would do or say.

In the context of I Corinthians Chapter 11, Paul was witnessing and speaking about the worship of the church. It had become a chaotic and charismatic exhibition that did not edify the church body at all. So it is in this last part of the Book of I Corinthians, that Paul sought to restore the proper order to worship.

To very-much simplify his teaching: True worship has nothing to do with attending a church service and everything to do with a personal response to God’s work in our individual lives.

In today’s world, Paul’s teaching suggests that worship on a Sunday morning is an end result of our walking with God Monday through Saturday. It has absolutely nothing to do with what today’s church refers to as "Worship Style." Let me repeat that: Worship is not synonymous with music.

We don't have to look far to discover how sensitively God measures the worship of Himself. In Genesis, Cain was rejected by God and turned over to his degenerate and murderous heart all because his worship was wrong—in both motive and in method.

A bit further we find Nadab and Abihu severely judged with instant death for offering "strange fire" at the altar—an offense so serious to God that the brothers' father Aaron was not even allowed to mourn their death. Instead, God commanded Aaron to mourn his sons' great sin.

And then there is Uzzah, killed in an instant for touching the ark of God. And add Eli who, along with his entire descendency, was condemned for honoring his worship-despising sons rather than honoring God.

In all actuality the entire decline and subsequent captivity of Israel and Judah were primarily due to rampant false worship among these chosen nations.

Looking further, we see Jesus Himself never more visibly full of animated wrath than in His "cleansing" of the temple—the place of His Father's worship, now corrupted by those who valued other things more highly.

All of these examples, reveal to us that worship—including how, why, and whom we worship—very nearly tops the list of things God holds dreadfully important.

And yet, we live in an age and culture whose church is as confused and varied in its choices for worship as it is over carpeting its rooms and painting its walls!

For many churches, designing worship has become most closely associated with that which will best suit the attendees or best attract the hesitant church-goer or best reach the youth of society, rather than that which is most pleasing to God.

What are the motives and methods that govern what we do in worship today?

Are they Scriptural or are they merely self-seeking?

Does our worship emphasize the way in which we appear to men, or is it solely concerned with how we appear to God?

Does our worship tend to secularize the sacred in an effort to bring God down to man's level?

Is our worship intended to soften nonbelievers into "liking" Christians and Christianity?

Is our worship based on a philosophy that follows "the tradition of men" and "the basic principles of the world"?

Is our worship designed in such a way as to make the nonbeliever feel comfortable, accepted, pleased, even entertained?

Does our worship seek the participation of those who neither know God nor love Him?
Remember: Worship is not for the unbeliever.
Worship is the believer's response to God.

Is our worship exclusively led by, and does it exalt, those whom the world considers successful, attractive, "together," happy?

Is our worship Christ-like?

Whom are you following?

In posing these questions,
I hope each of us can search our own motives
and ideas about worship and respond honesty.


I like this about Paul: He humbly recognized his faults (Read Romans 7:14-25) but still took great care to do the right thing and he wanted to make sure that first and foremost people were following Jesus. That is the essence of what Paul wanted. He wanted people to follow Jesus.

I want to be like Paul. If what I say or do does not line up with what God says in His Word, than I don't want to be followed, read or looked to as a leader. Period. Always test for yourself what you read, hear, or see by the truth of God's Word.
And never apologize for standing against or even walking away
from what does not match up with Scripture.

Open your own Bible and read about the false worship in the Old Testament. Read Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians about the heart of true worship in I Corinthians.

Following Jesus takes work. Following Jesus is more than going to church and getting an emotional high with hands raised while singing a favorite praise song.

Sure, that may be part of worship -- a part that cannot take place fully without some relationship with God. However, the heart of worship is more than an emotional response to an inspirational message or song or a specific style of worship designed by a local church to evoke a reaction in its hearers.

True worship is defined by how we live our everyday lives. True worship is seeking God through the pages of the Bible even when we don't feel like it. True worship is reading a passage of Scripture and applying it to our lives even though we don't like how that particular passage of Scripture makes us feel. True worship is a life of surrender -- following the true Leader -- no matter the cost.

Put yourself in the Apostle Paul’s shoes: Would someone following you be following God as well? How many times per week do you examine your life in light of what the Bible says? How about your favorite Bible teachers/preachers? Does their teaching line up with God's Word? Or do you simply take them at their word?

"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
~ 1 Corinthians 11:1

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife



14 comments:

Denise said...

Wow, so very, very thought provoking my friend. Thank you for such wise words.

Ben said...

AMEN!
I've been convicted myself many times over "worship style." We do have our definitions all crossed. When we seek the participation of those who neither know God nor love Him, we've lost the true meaning and are just as guilty as Cain, Nadab,,Abihu, Uzzah and Eli. Worship is for the BELIEVER.

nikkit3 said...

I am thankful I found your blog! I found it on the Pastor's Wives Thriving Blogroll!
One of my favorite lines from this post: "True worship has nothing to do with attending a church service and everything to do with a personal response to God’s work in our individual lives."
I appreciate all the scripture you share, and the questions for me to slow down and really think about!

Barbara said...

Your articles bless me so much. I do chuckle sometimes at the way you word things. "Let me repeat that: Worship is not synonymous with music." Saying it like it is my friend No argument here.
[printing]

Michelle Bentham said...

Un-Apologetic. ;o) I love that about you. You boldly proclaim truth and stand on the firm foundation of Christ as God's Irrefutable Word.

You know, God has taken me to new heights and depths of worship in the last nine years. I started out confused and uncertain about what worship looked like. Then, as He wooed me - as He drew me to Him through Bible study and through what God is doing in my life and my family - I began to focus my heart on God and the expression of love that I felt in my heart for Him.

Worship grew up in me as an attitude of the heart. A lifestyle that expresses love and devotion to God.

Beth Moore says, "We should be the kind of leader that when our role is completed we can step out of the way and those who follow are still following Christ."

I try to live my life by this standard. By the standard that worship is Love Expressed. Worship is not something I do once a week, it happens in Bible study and in revelation. With each new experience and recognition of His presence and activity in my life. Worship fills my heart and my mind with passion for God and zeal for His purposes. When it comes to worship I want to be like David who knew the heart of God through Worship.

Love you, great post. You always press us further into the courts of our Father.

Blessings.

Petra said...

EXCELLENT!

Solace said...

I love Michelle's comment!
I also love that Beth Moore quote:

"We should be the kind of leader that when our role is completed we can step out of the way and those who follow are still following Christ."

And I take that thought one step further and ask "worship leaders" this: "If you suddenly stopped playing Contemporary Christian music in your church, would the people still come back to learn about Jesus? Would they still want to be a Christian?"

Our own "worship leader" at my church avoids the question. The worhsip "war" at our church has grown very ugly and some have left the church. WHY do "PASTORS" refuse to see the biblical defintion of worship and continue to mislead our church members and youth? It breaks my heart.

I PRAISE GOD for my worhsip time with Him - it has grown so sweet and precious to me over the last year. It has nothing to do with corporate singing -- it is the outpour of my love and devotion and obedience to Christ and His Word! It has grown sweeter for me the closer I seek to live out my life according to God's Will, but for years though I did see worship service that precedes the sermon on a sunday as "worship". It's a very loose defintion.
Wonderful lesson.
I'm tempted to print out your post and slip in in our "worship leaders" box and church.

sara said...

oh I have missed reading your blog!!

this sentence:

For many churches, designing worship has become most closely associated with that which will best suit the attendees or best attract the hesitant church-goer or best reach the youth of society, rather than that which is most pleasing to God.

is so true. I desire to worship God 24/7, in all that I do.

great post!

btw, thank you so much for all your prayers and sweet comments. I appreciate you!!

Alleluiabelle said...

What a powerful, powerful post! It made me think and feel wholeheartedly about what worship is really all about and exactly who we are to follow. I'm still thinking as I write this, I think I will go back and read this one again a few more times.

Thank you for such words of wisdom.

Blessings,
Alleluiabelle

kalopoieo said...

Incredible truth and discernment here. I say again,my dear, you've missed your calling! John Piper could have said is as well. PREACH ON!
Who(or what) ARE we worshiping?
The richest worship for the true believer is private.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Oh now, you're speaking straight to my heart now, girl. This is my life's passion!!!! To get the Word out on what true worship looks like. This is perfect.

True worship is defined by how we live our everyday lives. True worship is seeking God through the pages of the Bible even when we don't feel like it. True worship is reading a passage of Scripture and applying it to our lives even though we don't like how that particular passage of Scripture makes us feel. True worship is a life of surrender -- following the true Leader -- no matter the cost.

Amen. I always like to think that I don't come to church "to worship." Instead, I come to church "already worshipping."

Tough to live life this way, wish I made it easier by doing it His way all the time.

Love you friend,
LaLee

LisaShaw said...

Excellent and powerful message and one that is needed in the Body of Christ. Many often misunderstand worship.

Worship is truly a lifestyle. As Dr. Mary Ann Brown said many years ago,"Worship is love responding to Love". It's our love response to God's love and how true that is for my life.

Worship is so much more than music, words, lifting hands, etc. it's a lifestyle of responding to God's love by offering Him back my love and for me love is action. It's not a quiet, dormant word. My love for God should be active because His love for me is active! Praise the LORD.

I don't want to write a long message here but I could go on because this is a very special topic for me but thank yuo for sharing with such power. May GOD be glorified in and through it.

Bless you.

Betsy Markman said...

Ooh, preach it, girl!

Love it!

Anonymous said...

pretty cool stuff here thank you!!!!!!!

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