The MASTER'S VOICE
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"Let the earth fear the Lord: Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him." Psalm 33:8
Apparently, according to this verse, the fear of the Lord and the awe of God may be connected. In fact, they may be the same thing. In one sense, to "fear" may mean to be "in awe." If "all the inhabitants of the world" are to "fear the Lord" and "stand in awe of Him" this certainly must and will include the church of Jesus Christ in an even greater measure.
When was the last time you personally "stood in awe" of God? Think about that for a moment. When was the last time (in corporate worship) you experienced the fear of the Lord, the wonder of God, with other believers?
Were you genuinely "awe struck" with His majesty, power, might, and dominion? Sound too good to be true? Sound like the exception rather than the rule in worship? It's not suppose to. What I just described is the normal corporate worship experience God wants you to enter into each and every time you lift your heart and hands to Him. However, God is not going to "show up," He is not going to make a "personal appearance" if you will, where He is not being truly worshipped. Do you miss experiencing His awe in your worship? You should.
Regarding some of the more recent trends in worship that I've witnessed in my travels across the country, I've got some really good news and some really bad news to report. First the good news: True worshippers are still worshipping. I mean really worshipping! They are worshipping God like I've not seen for years. How glorious! All kinds of musical instruments are being played with a high level of skill. Great vocals are filling our sanctuaries with beautiful harmonies. A literal explosion of new and wonderful contemporary worship songs-upbeat melodies and catchy lyrics- are bringing heaven to earth!
Yet, there exists a subtle but potentially serious problem with all this "success" in our worship. So what's the bad news? In some churches I've seen a growing and alarming trend in worship. Something is missing. Something is wrong. I think I know what it is. We've lost our awe of God in worship.
Exactly what does the term "awe" mean? "Awe" is defined as: a reverential state or condition of the mind and heart that results in a respectful fear or genuine wonder. In a secular sense, a person can be "in awe" or "filled with awe" towards another person, place or thing. For example, the Grand Canyon, with all of its splendor and beauty, can cause even the most unemotional individual to experience true "awe." That is, the distinct sense of fear and wonder towards this magnificent creation. Basically, it's just a hole in the ground. But what a hole! Clearly, it fills one with awe. The reverential fear and genuine wonder towards the Creator!
It's time to ask some hard questions of our worship philosophy and practice. Have we become too familiar with God, disrespectful of Him in our worship? Have we unwittingly lost our sense of the fearful and wonderful awe of God in our worship? Have we regressed from "awe"some to "awe"ful in our worship? The answer? In some cases, probably we have.
So what is the solution? Although God is our loving and caring Father, we must remember He is still Almighty, Eternal God. He is still Jehovah, the omnipotent Ruler of the universe, the Judge of all mankind. He is to be reverently honored like no Other. He is to be held in the highest esteem and is to be worshipped, exalted, and extolled like no Other. Bluntly, He is to be feared like no Other. He is to be held in awe like no Other! It is this reverential fear of the Lord that produces reverential awe. The church must have this awe restored to her worship. She must begin again to fear God in worship. No fear of the Lord in worship means no awe of God in the church.
True worship is suppose to be about Him and Him only. It's sole suppose is to "lift up the Name of the Lord" and only the Name of the Lord. Worship is suppose to be about Him, Him, Him, Him, Him, not me, me, me, me, me.
Some churches today have relegated their worship expression to little more than a "pep rally," a musical production, a show, a performance. Their worship has become man centered, or worse yet, need centered. There remains little of the awe of God in their worship because God is not being worshipped! They worship everything else but God: their needs, their experiences, their theological position, or their doctrine. Some churches even worship their worship-another form of idolatry.
It is time for the church to return to the original purpose of worship which is to glorify God and only God. The church must get back to the basics. I challenge each and every church. Are you experiencing His awe? If not, you may not be truly worshipping.
Next Sunday let's slow everything down just a bit. Let's not be in such a rush. Let's wait on God in our worship. Let's not be so quick to "package" our worship. Let's not be so quick to "assembly line" it, to "mass produce" it. Let's worship patiently. We just might experience His awe again-something some churches may not have experienced in a very long time. Amen!