“Is this what Christianity has come to?” I asked myself, as I read the article in a leading Christian magazine.
It was an overview of the Dove Awards ceremony. The multi-page spread was littered with pictures of various artists and the article seemed like something borrowed from TMZ. It was all about what so-and-so wore and whether it was hot or not.
And it has infiltrated the local church to a great degree.
Over and over the Bible warns about idolatry in His temple. He warns about “mixed worship” – a mixture of idolatry and worship to God.
In Leviticus 10 we read about Nadab and Abihu who offered a “strange fire”. They filled their censors with fire from an altar other than the temple altar, which was the only fire that could be legitimately used for worship. Jewish interpretation also suggests that they were intoxicated.
A fire went out from the Lord and devoured them.
God is serious about worship. He is serious about our sacrifice. He is also serious about His temple and the worship that is offered there!
What does this have to do with today? It has so much to do with worship today!
We have taken the worship of God and turned it into worship of man.
There are 2 ways we have turned worship into a culture of celebrity-ism
1. We have turned worship into concerts
Worship time is more like a concert in many churches: from stage lights to smoke machines; from long intros to worship leader solos.
The darkened auditorium leaves the congregation feeling more like an audience. There is a massive disconnect because worship no longer feels corporate. The worship leader cannot see them, they cannot see across the auditorium, and they feel like they’re at a concert – not at church.
The worship team becomes a worship band with a lead singer, backup vocals and band; taking on celebrity status.
2. We have become worship music critics
I allowed myself to get pulled into this for a while. I only wanted to sing the “cool” worship songs, not the “old stuff”.
Then one day God spoke to me very sternly: “Who do you think you are to show disdain for songs that were written in love to Me, to glorify Me and to honor Me? Who do you think you are? Have you become so full of idolatry that you would rather worship a style of music than Me?”
His words pierced down to a very hardened place in my heart and revealed an area of great snobbery in me.
I dared to poke fun at certain worship songs – changing the words to make them funny. I dared to turn my nose up at them because I considered them outdated and old. And yet those songs were inspired by the Holy Spirit! To make fun of them and call them “uncool” was to make fun of the of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Since when has a style of worship music become a status symbol by which we measure how cool our churches are?
Since when has the church chosen worship music based on music charts and popular artists?
Is this what worship in the church has been reduced to?
The worship of music?
The worship of man?
Christian celebrity-ism has driven the church to a point of great danger. The mixture of the worship of God with the worship of man and music is a strange fire.
Just like Nadab and Abihu, we come before the altar of God intoxicated by our perception of our own greatness and ability while swinging our censors filled with fire from the altar of idolatry: the worship of Christian celebrities, ourselves and cool music.
The stage is a double-trap: a trap for the one who stands upon it because it elevates them and gives them status. The one who stands on the stage must ever strive for humility. He must ever remind himself that he is never as good as he thinks he is, or as people say he is. He must never allow himself to enjoy the praise of man, or glory in his achievements. He is not up there to be praised, but to give all praise to God.
The stage is also a trap for the one who looks to it because it tempts him to place the one who stands there on a pedestal and make an idol out of him. He must ever remind himself that the one standing on the stage needs the grace and mercy of God as much as he does. He must ever remind himself to look to God alone, and never put his hope, faith and trust in man.
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.