Monday, March 24, 2008

Does God need our praise?

Joel has done an interesting post in which he asks if God needs anything.

Easter morning, I went to the meeting of the Presbyterian group that we normally spend Sunday mornings with. Since it was Easter , they went all out with a processional by some of the women wearing bright purple robes carrying and hanging banners. Then the music started and the praising began. I'm not questioning the people's sincerity. I've been around them long enough to know that they love the Lord and many have made great sacrifices for him so that's not even in question. What I'm questioning is the thought that God is honored by all of that pomp and expects it when his people gather.

Joel's questions made me ask myself, Does Father really need our praise and is he more pleased when it's elaborate? When I think about the Simpsonville gathering with Wayne Jacobsen that I went to a few weeks ago, one of the things that stands out is that we never prayed, not even over the food. We just ate and then shared Jesus with one another in a natural setting. No one mentioned praying and I didn't even think about it until I had returned home. Yet, I sense that Father was very much involved in that gathering throughout the entire week-end.

Darin Hufford in his book The God's Honest Truth has a chapter entitled Love is Not Proud and in it he writes, "When we worship, we do it thinking that this is the reason we were put here, as though He created us so we could remind Him of how great He is all the time." That does seem to be the mindset in our "praise and worship" meetings. We continually tell God how great he is so that he'll delight in our praise and show up at our meetings. Sounds like manipulation to me.

Also, as Darin pointed out, "If you wouldn't be friends with a person like that, you won't be friends with a God like that." No one wants to be around a person who constantly needs us to tell them how wonderful they are. That's bondage of the biggest kind and, after a while, we'll avoid that person as much as possible. That will also be our reaction to a god that needs constant praise.

That, however, is not our God. He doesn't suffer from an inferiority complex and needs us to build him up. He knows who he is and is quite aware of his majesty and awesomeness yet, in Christ, he chose to lay that all aside and come as a man so he could have a real relationship with us.

While I don't think it's wrong to tell him how much we love him, if we think that's all there is to worship, we're sadly mistaken. True worship and praise is based on a relationship that is real. We praise him because we love him and it's an overflow of that relationship. It can't be planned and boxed into a certain time on a certain day. True worship is lived out in the daily circumstances of life as we walk and talk with our Father. Occasionally, we might stop and sing to him but we need to remember that he also sings to us. My post, God is not angry with you, talks about this.

Does Father need our praise? I don't think so. He may enjoy the Sunday morning songfests but I believe his real joy comes as he and his child enjoy their day together doing the activities of the day.

7 comments:

Joel Brueseke said...

Aida... great post! I think that a lot of the pomp and elaborate settings are more for "us" than anything else. And I mean that in a negative way. :) I mean, we somehow think by creating some sort of "atmosphere" of praise and worship, we're pleasing God and causing Him to "come down to us." Not that there's necessarily always something wrong with having a nice setting and all the pomp and circumstance, but I think that many times this can cause us to focus more on what's happening on the outside rather than on the inside and our deep relationship with God.

It's sad when people leave a service and say, "the worship was just not all that great today" due to the music or singing not being right or the atmosphere just wasn't right. OR, perhaps even worse, "the worship was fantastic today!", when what they really mean was they got a whole lot of emotion out of it but yet didn't truly even focus on God.

I know that's not the main purpose of your post here, but it's where my thoughts went. :)

I absolutely love the heart of what you pointed out here. "True worship and praise is based on a relationship that is real. We praise him because we love him and it's an overflow of that relationship. It can't be planned and boxed into a certain time on a certain day."

Indeed, God doesn't need our praise. Our praise is an outflow of our relationship with Him.

Kent said...

I tell people often that Jesus didn't ever tell us to worship him, he invited us to follow him. I think the following more often than not gets pushed to the side and folks feel the worshiping (singing)is enough.

Bino Manjasseril said...

Aida, you are right on!

What I am wondering is, who invented this 'praise and worship'? I don't think it was God, do you?. Today we have worship practice, worship team and worship leaders!
'Practicing' to worship the God of the universe? It sounds little weired to me.
If I know how to play Guitar or Key board and people are ready to applause my singing, I don't mind singing 'gospel songs' all day long on the stage. But don't tell me that I am worshiping God.

Apostle Paul taught us what real worship is, in Romans 12:1. And it is something like you said in the post. A person who is walking by faith in the Son of God who lives in Him, IS worshiping God. A person who surrenders the members of His body for the perfect will of God IS worshiping God.

Aida said...

Joel, I think you're right. All of that pomp is really geared to getting an emotional reaction from us and it usually works.

I noticed Sunday morning that at a critical time in one of the songs, the volume on the praise team was turned up. They got the reaction that they wanted. At that point, I felt goosebumps. In the past, I would have mistakened that for a movement of the Spirit. Now, I realize that it was just a physical and an emotional response that had been orchestrated by the praise team leader.

"I think that many times this can cause us to focus more on what's happening on the outside rather than on the inside and our deep relationship with God."

Wow! I can sure relate to focusing on what's happening outside. The women in the purple robes stood in the aisles while we were singing. While I was supposed to be "worshipping" God, I was thinking how much I liked the color and that purple was my favorite color. Later. I ended up looking at their feet to see what kind of shoes they were wearing, if any.

I believe those type of services rarely produce a deeper relationship with God. They may produce a temporary high but, after you leave the building and return to the real world, the high leaves. Then, the people need to return to the building again to get pumped up again.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

Aida said...

Good point, Kent. It really is easier for people to sing a bunch of songs even if they don't mean what they say than it is to follow Jesus into the wild adventure he calls us to. That way, they can keep up the illusion of control and still feel like they've fulfilled their religious obligation.

Aida said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Bino. I agree with everything you said.

It definitely wasn't God. The only singing I read about in the New Covenant is spontaneous songs. I don't see any of the glitzy performances that pass for praise and worship today.

"A person who is walking by faith in the Son of God who lives in Him, IS worshiping God. A person who surrenders the members of His body for the perfect will of God IS worshiping God."

People are supposedly taught how to praise and worship but that's impossible. As you pointed out, worship is a life that is surrendered to God. No one can teach someone else how to do that since true praise and worship is birthed out of a relationship.

Aida said...

BTW, Bino, Pagan Christianity has a chapter about Ministers of Music. I haven't gotten that far in the book yet but I'm sure it'll talk about the origin of modern day "praise and worship" music and all of the other stuff that goes with it.

It should be very enlightening.