Thursday, February 22, 2007

Singing So Hard

I never really want to pick fights with anyone here about their worship preferences in terms of style, newness vs. oldness, structured vs. free-form. Perhaps our first mistake was to link the words "worship" and "music" so tightly in the first place. I'm just going to ramble a bit, and probably not edit myself too much afterwards.

I got really tired(quite literally, tired) of practicing worship as if I was doing some great spiritual work of holiness for God. The typical session would look like this: Get into a group of people. Pick a bunch of songs that were sure to be picker-uppers, appropriately tapering uptempo rockers into downtempo "intimate" songs. Sing proudly that you love God forever, that you will give him everything, and perhaps that he is your "song" or your "light" or some such spiritualized metaphor. If the group is functioning as it should, get an emotional charge and maybe wave your hands around(especially as the song bursts into the rousingly anthemic, major-key chorus where the lead singer aims for that inspiring, sustained, high note right on the word "I" or perhaps "give." As the session progresses, lower your energy, close your eyes, and slightly incline your head towards the ceiling. End with eyes closed with a constipated look on your face as the leader says a prayer that God would "be with us," today and show us ("illumine" if he/she has a particularly big vocabulary) what he wants us to learn from the word.
I am not complaining, honest. I just see a pattern here, and like with all repetitive behavior I see in people, I just have to start laughing at some point. Can the worship experience be so literally the same for so many people, church service after church service? Is God doing the exact same thing in everyone's life, all the time? Why did I get so tired? Why did I start feeling like a total, predictable goose every time the music started?

Am I responding to God's unceasing approach to me, or am I trying to initiate a spiritual behavior that I believe elevates me into the category of "very sanctified," or "godly?" And the more people watching the better. Then later, maybe I'll make a few surreptitious comments to my friends about "those [fill in the blank] Christians" who don't worship right.

Could I just be real with you for a second? A lot of the times that I've been seen at worship services, I haven't actually been worshipping God. I'm not going to beat myself up for this, but I think I might have actually been worshipping my love for God instead of God. Let me take a shot at what I could do differently. Sit down. Open my eyes; or close them. Whichever is most honest. Stop singing. Close the Bible; or open it. Whichever is less of a result of my pseudo-spiritual predisposition towards getting everything straight. Stop evaluating the musicians and the people around me. Say to myself "Abba do you love me?" Say "Lord, have mercy on me." Or don't say anything, and just sit there in silence. Maybe, if something clicks, my spirit will begin to worship, unstoppably, and then maybe my body would follow. I'll stand up, start singing.......

But hell, I might daydream or think about the movie I saw last night. I'd just like to be able to be honest about it afterwards. Then I don't think I would get so tired.


flyawaynet said...

Is 'put on' spirituality worse than disinterest?

Nate said...

I don't know. I think they come from the same source. Which I think is lack of believing what God has said to be true about God. I'm sure I've been both places, and whichever it is, I think I need to be able to be brutally honest with myself about it. I suppose it's possible to be dishonest about your disinterest, which produces pseudo-spirituality. Then you have both to deal with!

The key is, I surmise, once you've been honest with yourself about your dishonesty and disinterest, to believe that God approaches and accepts people who are dishonest and disinterested in him. It's to hammer your understanding with the truth about God's unchanging character and attitude towards you. Until it sinks into your heart and mind, and you believe it so much you spontaneously act as if it were true(lifted from Dallas Willard). Which would ultimately mean complete honesty and total occupation with the invisible God.