Worship is not a performance or an ego trip. It is something that glorifies God and pleases Him. God tells us how to worship, and we find out, not by looking over our shoulder at what other people are doing; by following trends, be they charismatic or anti-charismatic; but by faithful prayer and by listening to God’s Word in expectancy and humility.
Worship does not only happen on a Sunday in church, but whenever we act in obedience to the impulse of the spirit and in His power. If an ungrieved Spirit is at work in us, we will be worshipping in all we do, and we will get worship right.
What we are individually, 24 hours a day, is more important than what happens in church once a week. The secret of acceptable worship lies in how we are at home or at work, and when we are alone and nobody knows what we are doing. It lies in our total lifestyle. Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10a). If we don’t get our act together before we come to church, we can’t expect to worship at church. We can’t expect something magical to happen once we’re inside the church doors. We mustn’t think, “All I need to do is get to church,” because it doesn’t work that way. If we are hypocrites, if our profession of faith lacks reality, when we come to church to sing and worship, we will be out of tune and will not be making music pleasing to God.
In our corporate worship it is essential to have inner—spiritual—harmony. In Ephesians 4:3 Paul speaks of “the unity of the Spirit.” By this he meant that the leadership of the Spirit in you will not contradict the leadership of the Spirit in me. If we are guided by the Spirit, we will be in agreement. The ungrieved Spirit in me can detect the ungrieved Spirit in you, and there will be no heaviness when we come together—only peace and agreement.
Matthew 18:19 says, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” This word that is translated “agree” is the Greek word from which we also get the word “symphony.” It is used like this in Acts 15:15: “With this the words of the prophets agree.” In Acts 5:9a, it is said of Ananias and Sapphira: “How is it that you have agreed together to test the spirit of the Lord?” 2 Corinthians 6:15 (KJV) translates it as “concord”: “What concord hath Christ with Belial?”
In a symphony all the instruments play their own parts, but according to one overall pattern, and the result is lovely music. But how did the individuals in an orchestra learn to play their instruments? If I suddenly wanted an orchestra here today and passed out instruments among you all, would you know what to do with them?
I was an oboist in a symphony orchestra when I was in high school in Kentucky. I learned that when the conductor comes up with a piece, he wants each member to practice it during the week. So I had to take the score home with me. And how well the orchestra performed at the next rehearsal depended on how each person handled his own part.
It is the same with worship. It is not possible, for example, to go to Hyde Park Corner and say, “I want a hundred people to stand over here—it doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian or not—and we are all going to worship God.” You just don’t do it like that. When we meet together to worship, God is not looking for aesthetic beauty but for the presence of the ungrieved Spirit in each worshipping member of the congregation.
It is said that the great conductor Arturo Toscanini had such a perfect ear that he could detect if the fifth violinist on the fourth row back was slightly out of tune. Well, I don’t know if it is possible for any minister to have that kind of sensitivity about his congregation. But God knows when there is perfect harmony and a lifestyle that is in accord with the Spirit—and He is not to be fooled or played around with.
The way we guard against being a hypocrite six days a week and acting piously on Sunday is by applying the Word of God to our lives. Revival in a church may be quite extraordinary, but it is only a question of whether each member is following the conductor’s score n his private life. In an orchestra the sound is no greater than the sum of the different parts. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:16: “from whom the whole body is joined together and connected by every joint and ligament, as every part effectively does its work and grows, building itself up in love.” So our worship ought to be a glorious symphony to God—no one out of tune, no one playing too loudly, each person following his or her own score.
Prayer Power for the Week of July 22, 2018
This week, work on developing a lifestyle of worship by maintaining spiritual intimacy and seeking God daily in prayer, worship and feeding on His Word. Continue to pray for our spiritual, civic and governmental leaders asking God to fill them with grace, wisdom and godly counsel. Remember those serving in the military and as first responders. Continue to pray for worldwide revival, that God would send more workers into His harvest, and for the peace of Jerusalem. Read: Matthew 18:19, Luke 16:10, Ephesians 4:16.