What guidelines are there for understanding the difference between worship that is aimed to glorify God and expressions that do not? The point is not to go overboard with setting up a bunch of rules for yourself that you can’t keep. I’ve come out on the other side of a lot of these things, so I can give some insight how to avoid getting tangled up where you don’t have to, either within a set of rules that you know is impossible to keep or not even trying and throwing off every guideline because it seems too complicated.
Worship isn’t restrained to just the couple of songs we sing in church or a traditional Christmas Eve or Sunday service. Every day we can choose to pursue a relationship with God and give Him praise with whatever we do.
Again, the purpose is not to have a list of don’ts where we can never measure up. The “don’ts” aren’t to be the main focus. When we make choices that aren’t the best for us, it’s easy to believe the devil’s lies that we just can’t, we aren’t good enough, God would never want us after what we’ve done and will never use us for good purposes. At every opportunity, the false messages about who we really are try to infiltrate our mind, will and emotions. Those things are lies and will keep us from freedom.
There are many things that are going to draw us away from loving and seeking God and should be addressed. 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of The Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of The Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
I want to stress that everything that is popular is not necessarily wrong. There are songs, shows, entertainers, books, & movies, that aren’t focused on God and they are not bad. It’s not loving the world to watch them or participate in them. It becomes an issue when we become addicted to entertainment though, and our present culture certainly doesn’t show any restraint in this area. There are extremely unholy choices available within all of these categories. I am not just referring to blatant pornography and violence. We are to be in the world, not of the world, and many of these mediums cultivate and reinforce a love and addiction for everything but God. Ask The Lord what He would be pleased with when making entertainment choices.
I also want to reiterate that sex is not bad. Sex was created by God for enjoyment between a man and a woman in covenant relationship with each other and before God. One of the first blessings God gave Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply. That is a pretty self-explanatory statement. We can see the perversion of what God created on many levels and often we have tried to compensate for that by not talking about things, not addressing situations, just giving our don’t list or completely abandoning the good gifts God created to the enemy’s camp entirely. Sex can be and has been used to worship in wrong ways. The Corinthians encountered temple prostitutes as well as every other unclean sexual practice, which is why the apostle Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 6 that no other sin so affects the body as sexual sin. It is disrespecting our own bodies.
It is so sad to see beautiful young women disrespecting their bodies in so many ways. There is hardly a pop princess or teen queen who doesn’t have some form of seductive dance or image out there. It seems every talk show has a top ten list why you should run out and buy a stripper pole to impress your guy. And while it might be impressive to be that coordinated, it really is disrespecting to your own self-worth. Dance is a form of worship and we are either glorifying God or we are glorifying ourselves. I have heard countless times that what you do to perform onstage is completely detached from who you are as a person. Women cannot separate their actions from their emotions. We physiologically are just not made to do that. In the long run, these culturally accepted practices are damaging - damaging to the little girls that idolize their favorite singer, damaging to the full-grown woman who cannot measure up to the images heralded as beauty on every magazine cover.
We need to exercise the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong without going to extremes one way or the other - completely avoiding something and calling it bad when it isn’t, or giving up on trying at all, tossing every guideline out the window and doing whatever makes us feel good at the time. This is called discernment and it is one of the tasks The Holy Spirit helps us with. In John 15 and 16, Jesus promised us a gift in exchange for returning to His Father after His resurrection. He said, “I will send you The Counselor, The Spirit of Truth. He will come to you from The Father and tell you all about me.” The Holy Spirit is The One Who will lead us into all truth and bring Jesus glory. He also comforts us and helps to give peace to our minds and hearts. If you have never received the Holy Spirit, I certainly encourage you to develop a relationship with Him. He is part of the Godhead and is able to impart power to live a life that is pleasing to God, which is true worship.
In the last post I referenced Romans 1. It bears repeating here, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” verse 24-25 continues, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Keep in mind that whatever God has established and created, the devil will try to pervert and there is a counterfeit out there. Worship is no exception. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to express your heart to The Lord in a variety of ways and that you allow The Holy Spirit to teach you how to worship in spirit and in truth.