In part 1 I shared that worship–loving God back–is natural. He pours it on, and we respond. But some of us are stuck. It may be that you are wounded. Or perhaps…
You are angry.
The elder brother hated his younger brother who destroyed the family reputation. But he also hated his father, a gentle man who continued to reach out to him. Some are offended by the grace of God. He blesses people—you just don’t happen to be one of them. You’re doing you best to serve God, but it doesn’t seem to be working for you.
You have unhealthy relationships. Corporate worship is enhanced by loving relationships within the family of God. By contrast, it is inhibited by dishonest or strained relationships. It is stifled in unsafe surroundings. Emotionally challenged people may find it hard to worship.
You are resisting the Lord. Jesus felt welcome around sinners, but it didn’t keep him from addressing their sins. He was full of grace, so he said to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you.” But he added, “Go and sin no more.” Some people try to live outside the Lordship of Christ and still worship God. Doesn’t work.
You are more religious than righteous. You are trying to express love to someone that you don’t feel much love toward. The Pharisees worshipped with their lips, while their hearts were a thousand miles away. It did nothing for God–or the Pharisees. Worship sometimes makes people get religious, like they need to perform. They want to worship God in the worst way—so they do. They maybe feel as if they need to conjure up God’s presence by feeling a certain way, as if worship is a technique. Nothing is farther from the truth. It looks to us like other people are getting into it, so maybe we try to do it like they do. For the religious leaders, worship was duty, not delight. It was technique, style—and if you didn’t have the right routine, you weren’t worshiping.
If you are wounded, get healed. Healing is a choice. If you are angry, acknowledge it. You must change your faulty picture of God. If you have unhealthy relationships, you must do whatever you can to improve them. If you are resisting the Lord, you need to repent. And if you are trying to worship out of duty, you may need a heart transplant so that you can start trusting and quit trying. In all of these, God’s desire for you overrides your desire for Him. Even the first step toward change is met with empowering grace.
Keep in mind the following:
You may not feel comfortable when first stepping into new places of freedom in worship. The more important question is this: Is Christ comfortable? Don’t think that you are being inauthentic because you are moving outside your comfort zone. You are breaking into a new area, and transition is not always easy.
Secondly, your worship will not necessarily find acceptance with others. Corporate worship calls us to certain restraints that private worship does not. But the ultimate focus of worship is Jesus, not others. Let your private times with the Lord be your chance to experience with new ways of saying, “I love you.”