What’s the point of worship? Is it to have an experience. A lot of churches will talk about the “worship experience” that their church has that will lead you to new heights in your personal worship. Many will criticize the whole concept of a “worship experience” because that in itself almost becomes idolatrous. The aim of some, according to those critics, is to focus on the experience of worship instead of the God who is worshiped. One of the critics discussed the problem based on a song by Matt Redman: “Here for You.” Does the word “for” in that song mean “we’re here because You need us to be here to serve You, God” or does it mean, “we’re here for You like a thirsty man is here for water, or a hungry man for food?” In other words, are you there to do things for God, or are you there to let God fill you up?
True worship is experiencing God’s presence and allowing Him to fill us up with grace, with love, with commitment. True worship recognizes God for who He is and draws us closer to God as we recognize that while God doesn’t need us, we desperately need Him. John describes a true worship experience by those who had overcome all that the beast had to throw at them: “And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: ‘Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.’” (Revelation 15:2-3)
John paints an interesting picture here. We see a group of people in heaven who have an amazing incident in common. They have triumphed over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. So, why are they in heaven then? This picture throws our understanding of victory on its head. These people triumphed over the beast not by defeating it in combat, but by being faithful even unto death. They were standing beside a sea that looked like it was glowing with fire ready to worship God because in spite of all the hardships, they stayed true to God’s way not even fearing death. What was it that they needed after that? God gave them all musical instruments, and they formed a praise band to sing the song that came from Moses about the Lamb. There are no laments from God’s people here; there is nothing but joy and worship as they reflect on God. From a human standpoint, we would admire their faithfulness and devotion that led to their deaths. The recognized only God’s greatness.
We have an innate need to worship God. We see that when we realize how many people worship false idols. Usually, they have no knowledge of the one, true God. If they have heard about Him, and have rejected Him, they still seek ways to worship. Even those who claim to be atheist, or agnostic worship, although not in the way that we normally think of as worship. Science, progress, creativity, rationalism, and all sorts of other human institutions are used as substitutes for the worship of God. God doesn’t need our worship, we need to worship Him. In an interesting twist, we tend to worship more when we are going through difficult times. It’s not that we need to worship more then, it’s that we recognize our universal need to worship more then. These who had been through so much gladly worshiped God and recognized His justice in heaven. While we may not always recognize God’s justice, or even presence in difficult times, we still know that we need to call on Him. We still know that we need to seek Him like a man crawling through the desert searches for water. Once we experience true worship, we will never thirst like that again, although we will still continue to worship God no matter what the circumstances.
Lord, let me taste the living water of Jesus that will quench my thirst, but still allow me to worship You.