Over the years the church has become a place to be entertained. This comes in the form of music, drama and preaching. People will often say a speaker is really good based on their speaking ability not necessarily the content. There are many silver-tongued orators out there that gain a following because they either have an amazing voice or a flamboyant style about them. People just accept what they say as truth because of their speaking abilities. Many of these men and women are great story tellers but lack biblical content but that does not seem to matter to people as they are not really at church to worship but be entertained. Casting Crowns have sung “the altar has been traded for a stage”. So as long as the worship team is awesome and the speaking is great (15 minutes sermon), the Holy Spirit must be present. Actually to return to the heart of worship, truth should be present and that comes with a strong biblical presence in song and preaching. To make it complete there must be a craving for the word of God, both presenter and listener. If you are challenged by the word and do nothing you have disobeyed. Remember to bring your bible to church. How many people spend more time studying a sermon they just heard. At our church you can download a PDF and have all the scripture that you can study later.
Too many people are satisfied with little snippets of scripture but do not necessarily want to hear truth. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Many people do not want to hear the word because it will cut to the heart and since the heart is far from God they do not want to be challenged. Many people get mad at the pastor for talking about them in their sermons but in reality it is the Holy Spirit cutting them to the heart. So instead of repenting of their wicked ways, they go after the person preaching the way. (Just a side note. Shame on those who use the pulpit for their own personal use and not for proclaiming the word of God. Sadly that does happen which is why you should pray for discernment.) Worship has become more about listening and being entertained than doing.
There is much confusion today about the church being a charity. I would say most that attend church do not qualify for charitable status as they are paying someone to feed them. I like what AW Tozer said, "The Church can't be a religious theatre where paid men perform for the religious amusement of the people who pay them." People pay the pastor and musicians to entertain them. Many pastors and worship leaders are afraid of losing their jobs so they keep the masses entertained instead of preaching the gospel through word and song. As soon as the leader leads people into confession of sin and hold them accountable, they leave or the leader leaves. Churches that have tried to get back on track often end up with a handful of people, resources and maybe not even a building. That is the perfect place to be. This may sound harsh but churches need to get rid of the dross. Proverbs 25:4 “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; 5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.” It is not always the leader that should be removed. Too much energy and time is spent on entertaining the troops. To remove the dross is an easy but often painful process. Just preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ and this matter will take care of itself. Trust me, you will offend people but in the end you will find out what you are made of and what those who appear righteous are made up of. Proverbs 22:10 “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” If you want to build something truly holy, you must repent before God. Most are unwilling to do this. Sometimes it takes this process to wake people up.
Our job as leaders and worshippers is not to entertain nor is it our job to be entertained. There are so many Christians just listening to music and preaching but not yielding themselves to what they hear. They come away from a service and say, that was really good. Trust me on this. That is not what we want to hear. We want to see transformation not salutations. "The question isn't were you challenged. The question is were you changed?" Leonard Ravenhill Romans 6:13 “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer (yield) yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Even in devotions we must listen to what God is saying to us and for that matter we must be open to hearing all the time. Many people say they can’t hear God or God does not speak to them. This is an easy fix. Read your bible and mediate on it day and night. Put your hope in the word of God and you will be surprised how often God speaks to you. If you are not interested in his word why would he speak to you. When you are truly listening then you will do what you are told. James is very clear on this. James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” There are too many Christians today that love to listen but do not do.
The heart of worship is not to be entertained but to bow before God in humility at the power of his word whether in song or sermon. 2 Peter 1:6 “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” So whether you are reading your devotions or listening at a service, to truly worship you must yield yourself to the word of God and do it.
Prayer: Help me to listen and then obey your commands. Pray for a discerning ear. Deuteronomy 20:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”