What neighbor, you may ask when hearing the command to love them. “It is kill or be killed,” or “walk softly and hope that you don’t light up anyone’s radar.” “Why should we love them? Can’t you see what’s going on?”
What’s going on is devastating. There is one point, though, on which we should all agree, left and right, white or black or brown: if we don’t love one another, then we cannot really claim to love God.
When asked, what is the most important commandment, Jesus answered in two parts, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
They are inseparable, these two commandments: love God and love your neighbor. God’s love compels us to love our neighbors… and our enemies. Instead of meeting on the streets to confront one another, perhaps we should meet on the streets to pray for one another.
This is not a tirade about modern music in churches. In the 1970s I heard a Pentecostal evangelist claim that the electric guitar was the scorpion to which John referred in revelation 9. This is not that. This is not an examination of TV preachers or Bible-thumping evangelists.
The worship service is not just about those on stage; they will be held to a higher standard when they stand before God. This is not a dissertation about worship teams. This is to ask you, “Are you the Church, or are you an audience?”
Sure, the talent of your worship team sets the tone for the service. I understand that. I also understand that I can go to a rock concert or see a country star and set a tone for days, and both tones can make me “feel” better. Worship should be about God and not about how I feel.
My point is this: having a talented worship team that puts on a great show is an asset to the church, but the mood it creates does not equate with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Do we really think that God moves mightier in services that feature precision productions by a full band and professional singers than He does in services with an out-of-tune piano and a song leader with a hymnal? Is the Spirit drawn to one and repelled by the other? We are told to make a “joyful noise.”
While we should all give our best for Christ, the style of worship is not near as important as one might think. Church leaders spend way too much time worrying about competing with modern entertainment and not near enough time disciplining. What matters in church worship is this: that the hearts of the people (the Church) are prepared through prayer and an enduring relationship with God. Even more than the hearts of the worship leaders, that is what matters: the hearts of the people.
What matters is the presence of God.
Do you want God to move in your church? Do you want revival? Do you really want change? Then prepare your heart. Don’t be an audience. Let the Church be the Church. Let the people rejoice. For we’ve settled the question; we’ve made our choice. Let the anthems ring out, songs of victory swell.
For the church triumphant, is alive and well.- (Bill and Gloria Gaither)