Being free to worship is a concept that has been bothering me lately. And, yes, “bothering” is the word I meant to use. What I mean is, the last few times I’ve been able to be part of a worship service and not working during a worship service, I’ve felt hindered, somehow held back from feeling free to worship.
I don’t think it’s pride–although, by saying that exact phrase, maybe it is. I think I’ve been part of making worship happen so much lately that I have almost entire forgotten how to worship. I’ve had to be so focused on making sure lyrics were correct, or that the visuals matched the moment, or that my audio mix was right that worship has become a task and not a way of life.
This morning I attended Mountain Lake Church for the first time. I never go into a new church expecting to be blown away by the worship or message the first time I’m there. I guess there has to be a first time for everything, right? Pastor Shawn Lovejoy spoke out of the first few verses of Exodus 34. This part of the Story takes place shortly after Moses has come down from the mountain where he received the ten commandments and found that the Israelites had made an idol.
Pastor Shawn continued to say that Christians are often most guilty of taking God’s name in vain. We don’t necessarily say “oh my God”, but when we pray and when we worship, we’re often guilty of taking God’s name in vain because we use it without fully understanding the power of the words or the implications of “in the name of Jesus”.
I can honestly say that my fear of using God’s name in vain during worship is something I’ve thought about before but never put much stock into. I wish I could say that being afraid of abusing the name of God is what holds me back during worship. Who knows, maybe there is some deep-rooted part of it that is that fear.
I think what’s really holding me back isn’t a fear of God, but a lack of a fear of God. I want to believe the words I sing on Sunday morning at church, and I want a desire to pray to God when I’m not going through a crisis, and I want God to be the essence of my life and not just part of my life, but I get the way.
I hold myself back.
I tell myself I can’t be free to worship until I do x, y and z first.
I tell myself that I can kick bad habits and clear space in my life.
I have made idols in my life to worship in place of God because I like safe, predictable results. Faith is scary. Faith means believing in something I can’t see. Faith means being free to worship.
If God showed up [in a cloud of fire] every Sunday, do you think you’d be on time to [church]?
–Pastor Shawn Lovejoy