I enjoy contemporary worship. I just wanted to get that out of the way before I get into the heart of this post. I really do. I also enjoy high liturgy, southern gospel worship services and a variety of styles when it comes to church worship. But I kind of have a bit of a hang-up when it comes to “worship wars” as of late. You see, for the most part, people’s taste in worship seems to be just about that…their taste in worship. I want to come to church and hear the same thing that I am able to put onto my mp3 player in my car on the way to work. I want the ease of transition from church worship to my car/home radio/office to be so seamless that it doesn’t really take any effort on my part other than just showing up. Something doesn’t quite sit right about that.
In 1 Chronicles chapter twenty one there is this weird story thrown into the history of King David. For some reason he decides to take a military census of Israel rather than trusting in God’s power and so God decides to punish Israel. In the midst of a plague that kills 70,000 David looks up and sees an angel with his sword drawn against Jerusalem and he pleads to God as to how to draw back the angel. God commands him to offer a sacrifice at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David tells Araunah he needs his threshing floor the man offers to give it to the king. David’s response is recorded in verse 24, “But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing’.” David refuses to offer a free sacrifice. David refuses to offer worship that costs him nothing.
Isn’t that so often what we do though? We seek out worship that puts us in our comfort zone, that makes us feel good, that draws a response out of us…Because after all isn’t worship about us? Or should worship cost us more? Should we have to step out of our comfort zone, examine the place of our heart and our attitude and redirect our thinking about worship. And maybe it isn’t even about the style of music, presentation or preaching. Maybe worship is also about the other decisions in our life. Do we worship God with the type of clothes that we buy? Did we think about who made them and how they were treated? Do we worship God with the food we eat? Were the farmers fairly compensated and the harvesters treated with human dignity? All of a sudden worship becomes very expensive. But isn’t our God worth the expense? Doesn’t His greatness deserve such worship?
I do like contemporary worship. But I sometimes have to think about why I like it. And for some of you the same question can be asked regarding traditional worship. Why do I like it? Where is the cost? What does God deserve?