Is Your Worship at War?
We’ve all seen a movie, television show, or play in which a leading character stands before an army, of which he is the leader, and we watch as he gives an incredibly passionate speech to the army in order to reach into the deepest parts of the hearts of the soldiers, with hopes that this speech will spur the soldiers deepest convictions as to why the fight that is facing them must take place and why they must fight this battle with everything they have, even if it means death. In all of these scenes, without fail, the character becomes more and more passionate as he speaks boldly and confidently to the mission that is ensuing, and the soldiers become more and more passionate, as they begin to yell in agreement with the convicting words being spoken by their leader. No longer do they feel fearful; instead, they feel as though they are warriors, and they are ready for battle. It’s at this point that the leader, believing his army is ready for battle, declares that it is time for the army to charge or attack the enemy.
Now, let’s hit the pause button for a moment, and let me ask you a question. Would it make sense, at all, if the soldiers, after hearing the word, “Charge!” began attacking their own army? In your mind right now, I think all of you are saying, “That would never make sense!” To me, this would be absolutely ludicrous, and it would be terrible script writing.
What would be even more terrible is if this scenario took place within in a real war. It would be tragic for an army of soldiers to lose focus upon their mission and to begin attacking one another, ultimately allowing the enemy to have their way with them; however, I believe that this tragedy is taking place in God’s Church each and every week.
By God’s grace, each week, the Church gathers together in corporate worship of our holy, triune God, and I believe that every time the Church enters into corporate worship, we enter into battle. I believe that many people within the church love to battle; however, they do not understand who the fight is truly against. As a worship pastor, I have spent much time reading, studying, and listening to church member’s comments towards a two word statement, that frankly, I’m tired of hearing. Those two words are “Worship Wars.” Let me translate what “Worship Wars” means. This whole area of discussion that has been debated for years simply boils down to this thought: I have wants that must be met in order for me to worship. This statement is the motor that drives this car, and sadly enough, most of the wants that I hear mentioned and read about have nothing to do with biblical worship; instead, they are all personal preferences that are driven by selfish desires, and the selfish, sinful desires of man lead us into a war that we were never called to fight. The war is fought among ourselves—the Body of Christ. We lose all focus on the true mission of God, and we begin fighting each other. We have fought so much that we have coined a phrase to give quick identification to this war that is taking place within the Church, just as we have given name to wars of history.
We must repent. We must understand that worship is a battle, but it’s not the battle that we’re fighting. Satan desires to be glorified over God, and every time the Church loses focus on bringing glory to God, by satisfying our own desires apart from God’s desires, we become idolatrous by way of our prideful hearts. Idolatry is the means by which we glorify Satan, and this is the most detrimental thing we can do—before God and man. If you are not convinced of the danger within the corporate worship of God, hear His Word today. In Ephesians Chapter 5:18-21, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus these words, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
God’s Word is just as relevant for us today as it was for the church in Ephesus. Our joy and our pleasure are not found in the things of this world; instead, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and He leads us—a people saved by the grace of God—to worship through song—corporately— by making melody from and with our hearts that give thanks and glory to our Father in heaven, because He has bestowed upon us His glorious riches through His Son Jesus. Jesus has atoned for our sins; therefore, He is the head of the Church. He is the one who unites people, who in any other circumstance of life would have nothing in common. Therefore Paul says, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. He is saying, “Don’t fight over your differences; instead, worship the One who unites you together.”
A few verses later, however, Paul makes it very clear in chapter 6:10-18 of what is truly at stake. He makes it very clear that there is a very real battle that is taking place, and there is one—Satan—who is adamantly opposed to what Paul writes in chapter 5. Hear the words written in Ephesians 6:10-18, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”
Within our worship of God, the Body of Christ is most certainly in a battle. There is a battle that is raging. For an army to fight among itself is ludicrous; however, the Word of God plainly teaches that Satan uses schemes through evil forces to move God’s people into a prideful state that very quickly leads to idolatry. Too quickly, Christ—the Head of the Church—becomes unrecognized as our only reason to worship, and we quickly begin to worship our own preferences and ideas, learning that Satan makes the ludicrous so enticing.
Fight the battle that deserves fighting. Fight the battle that God has called you, in Christ Jesus, to fight. Christ has already won the war, and until the day that we meet Him face to face and are allowed to worship Him gloriously in heaven, we are called to fight the battle that Christ always be the subject and object of our worship within the Body of Christ. “Charge!”
Landon Reynolds is a Christ-follower, husband, father, and pastor. Currently, Landon is an associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Florence, SC, where he oversees music and worship. He holds degrees from Anderson University, SC, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently, Landon is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Anderson University, SC. Find his blog at calvarycaresworship.com.