Okay. I know you’re a fan of something or someone and you’ve taken a seat in the “so-called” audience. As you know, when there is an event of sorts there are usually those who perform and those who are fans. Besides, as fans we purchase tickets to see our favorite band or team perform. Along with the cost of the event (which is usually expensive), we endure packed and uncomfortable seating (if we sit at all) under sweltering heat or freezing temperatures for sometimes as long as 4 hours or more. It gets even better. As diehard fanatics, we’re even tolerant of standing in long lines for refreshments and restroom breaks.
How then is a concert or sporting event different than a Christian worship service? As a start, the focus in corporate worship is completely different. Not only that, the concept of “audience” takes on a different meaning in worship. Similarly, there are people on the stage who sing and speak but they aren’t the main attraction. In comparable fashion, there are people seated facing the stage and even though some refer to them as an audience, they aren’t the audience. In fact, as we worship, ideally those on the stage are joined with those seated around the stage in focus on the “real” audience. In this case, you can’t see the audience but you can feel His presence. He sees us but we can’t see Him. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings seated in heaven on His throne. He alone is God and He alone is our audience. He is an audience of ONE. We worship King Jesus with awe, respect, praise, and honor. We worship in prayer, song and proclamation of His word of truth. After all, He alone is worthy of our worship.
Even more, in worship, those on the stage aren’t positioned to entertain or perform for those who are seated around the stage. They are uniquely equipped by God to lead others to the throne of God in worship. You might say they’re ushers who escort us into the presence of God. They serve us by primarily directing us to take a seat at the feet of Jesus. That being said, those on stage have a heavy responsibility. They lead but do not desire attention or praise for themselves. They direct attention only to the King. They work hard all week through prayer, study and practice. Again, they’re not performing for the audience, but leading worship.
In close examination of worship, there is a delicate balance. Even though the leaders aren’t performers, they’re very conscientious about outpouring their very best. Quality after all does matter. It especially matters if it defined in the context of “purity of heart and stewardship of gifts and talents.” Because, you see, they’re giving their best to the King. In this context, they lead in such a way that we can join in. They also lead so they aren’t a distraction or hindrance to worship.
But let’s be reminded to see this from every angle. The desire to give our best is not limited to those leading but all worshippers alike. Unfortunately, similar to an audience at a concert, some who attend worship services desire to be entertained. They may applaud or stand when the feeling strikes them but not always in worship because they mistakenly see themselves as the audience expecting a performance. This is most alarming because they unwittingly become the audience taking the rightful place of the King.
You might say that there are fans and there are worshippers. You might also say there are too many Sunday morning fans that think they’re the audience that should be worshipping the audience of ONE. On the other hand, I wish so-called worshippers were as devoted as the fans at a football game. Unfortunately, I’ve rarely met a churchman who tolerates over-crowded, uncomfortable seating in extreme temperatures especially if it is more than an hour. It stands to reason, if we are truly worshipping Jesus, you know, THE KING, we would do it in all circumstances and under any condition. Right? Just a thought, but aren’t we diehard disciples of the King who won’t be turned away? As the Psalmist writes, we have a lot to be excited about and every reason to praise the King.
PS 100:1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
PS 100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
PS 100:3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
PS 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
PS 100:5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Allow me to ask a few questions as a takeaway for all of us.
Are we usurping God’s rightful place as the audience (the one receiving the worship)?
Are we giving God our best in worship?
Are we willingly being ushered into the presence of the King?
Are leaders ushering people to the feet of Jesus?
Are leaders leading so others can follow?
Might our worship here on earth be such that it will be a foretaste of what’s in store when we reach our heavenly home!