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A Worship Culture Marked By REVERENCE

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:28-29

Culture. It’s a hard word to define. Maybe it fits into the category of words, or ideas, which are more easily recognized than defined. You know it when you see it, or rather when you experience it. So how would you go about defining the culture of a church? You would likely have to look to the many smaller aspects of life in the church, which really aren’t so small after all. Those little snippets of life in the church come together to form the culture as a whole, but each distinctive area forms it own element of culture.

In our Vision Statement, we tried to capture who or what we believe the Lord is calling Christ Church PCA to be. That Vision Statement then fleshes itself out in the area of culture. To impact the culture as a whole, we are examining, and trying to shape our culture in the core activities of our church. We begin with our worship. While our corporate worship is not the extent of what we do together as the body of Christ, it certainly is a highlight which shapes and informs our lives together. It is the fuel for our life of worship.

So…it is appropriate to ask the question: “Where is our focus in worship?” Are we as individuals looking forward, or are we looking back? Are we looking back on our historical preferences? Is nostalgia our real “god?” In other words, have we come to believe that the only way to worship is the way we did it in the past?

Or, when we consider past experiences of worship, maybe that taste in our mouth is not so sweet. Maybe what we are really doing is running away from the past. Maybe we’ve come to believe the new way of worship is the best way.

Then again, maybe the past, either longing for or leaving it, has little to do with our vision for the perfect worship service. Maybe what we “like” is the ultimate measure for our worship preference. The problem is, in all of this discussion our focus has been on our own preference. Of the many problems with thinking about our worship in terms of preference, one is the fact that preferences will change. Isn’t there more than that?!?

YES. In Hebrews 12, the author points to the Kingdom that cannot be shaken, referring to the Kingdom of God. God will one day shake the heavens and earth, “in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” (v. 27) He then goes on to direct our worship with these words:

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

Reverence and awe. How does that sound for a worship culture? This is the culture the Word of God seems to be calling us to in our worship, and reverence is radically different than anything related to our preferences, old or new. It is radical because often times when we think of culture in terms of worship, consciously or subconsciously, we think of style. But reverence is not a matter of style. Reverence is a matter of focus, which brings us back to our original question: “Where is our focus in worship?”

The Word invites us — no, calls us — into worship that is God focused. So when considering culture, this matter of focus is preeminent. While there are many words that could describe this God-focused worship, REVERENCE seems to be most appropriate. It speaks to worship that is centered on the glory of God and not man. It speaks to worship that is weighty. This worship can be offered in a variety of styles, as long as the heart of worship is turned away from critique, and towards the Lord our God.

So how do we get there? Well, that’s a good question. I believe it starts with a conversation where we are honest with ourselves about how we’ve allowed preference to shape our worship. But in our conversation, let us remember that we can be honest because our great and glorious God has sent His Son to redeem and reconcile sinners like us. Our God is a consuming fire. He is a gracious Redeemer. He is a convicting, comforting Spirit. In our worship, may the Triune God be our focus.

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