John Piper has a chapter in his book (Brothers, We are Not Professionals) on worship. In typical Piperian fashion he speaks of worship as ‘treasuring Christ in our hearts’. While discussing this at length he notes a subtle change that can occur in our public worship:
If the focus shifts onto our giving to God, one result I have seen again and again is that, subtly, it is not God that remains at the center but the quality of our giving. Are we singing worthily of the Lord? Are our instrumentalists playing with quality fitting a gift to the Lord? Is the preaching a suitable offering to the Lord? And little by little the focus shifts off the utter indispensability of the Lord himself onto the quality of our performances. And we even start to define excellence and power in worship in terms of the technical distinction of our artistic acts.
John Piper, Brothers p. 239
This speaks to me. I’ve had it up to here (hand well above head) with people discussing worship in functional terms. I’m guilty myself. Has the right effect been achieved? Instead of our focus being on God himself, the gravitational pull of self is so attractive, subtly distorting our public worship.
It is interesting, then, that yesterday Tim Challies should also write about worship. He likens the problem to someone admiring a sunset, but then that person ends up admiring himself admiring the sunset! Daft, eh?
Al Roberts also has a challenging post on how the worship experience becomes all important. The analogy he uses is much less palatable than Tim’s.