I spent last Friday evening with a broken heart; a heart in mourning for the children of men. I have an evangelist’s heart, so naturally, in me, there is a desire for men, women and children to know God and to know His word. When I see men and women being led astray my heart breaks. It always has, and it probably always will. I was invited to go to the “Outcry” concert with a sister in the Lord I was looking forward to spending some time with her, getting to know her, and listening to some good music. I was looking forward to one of the artists that was on the docket for the night. I will be honest and say I was not a fan of any of the others. I had heard their music before, and was not impressed. But, I was still looking forward to going.
It was your usual Contemporary Christian concert, I have been to quite a few before, so knew what to expect; but something about this one was different. There was something stirring in my soul and my evangelistic gift came pouring out from within me, allowing a crack to begin in the middle of my heart. I did not go to the concert for a broken heart, but I left with one!
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9
It all started when the MC got up on stage and started to speak. There was a loud roar of excitement for the names of the bands that were going to be singing and leading us in what the MC called church. He was determined to get the point across to us that this night was not entertainment it was worship, it was church. The word worship sparked something in me. It got me to thinking about what it really means to worship. That’s where it all started; this broken heart of mine; it began to crack at the word worship.
What is worship? The first mention of worship is in Genesis 22:5. God calls Abraham to take his son, his only son Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham, without hesitation gets up early the next morning and prepares to do exactly that- kill his son in obedience to God. In verse 5 Abraham tells his servants to wait for him and Isaac there at the bottom of the mountain because they are going to go and “worship” the Lord God. Abraham was not singing and dancing and clapping his hands; he was following God in obedience. Abraham teaches us that worship is not music, it is a life lived in obedience.
You can call it whatever you want, add music, lights, smoke and loud drums to it, but it doesn’t make it worship. 10,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs for what? To glorify God? How does that glorify God? That is entertainment, that is not worship. If you want to glorify God, walk in obedience to His word.
But it didn’t end there, my heart just kept cracking. The first band got up to sing, and as always, the leader starts with a testimony, or a scripture, or some life lesson he has recently been taught. My gut was in knots by the time he finished. Not only did he misquote scripture, he twisted these scriptures into something that made no sense! I am still trying to figure out how he got what he got out of that scripture. I am no bible scholar, but even I know you cannot take God’s word out of context! The worst part was the people there were praising his divine wisdom and knowledge of God’s word. The people behind me and the sister beside me were praising God and saying “Amen!” My heart broke even more. It was evident they did not know God’s word! This man, whom they were peering at as some superstar, who they were listening to and soaking up his words; did not know the word of God. This broke my heart even more.
I listen to Contemporary Christian music. I have nothing against some of it. But what does repeating the word or line twenty times have to do with praising God? The Bible teaches us what true praise towards God is in the book of Psalms. Where is the repetition? Where is the chanting? Where is the continual repeating of the same word until I feel something in the Bible? But that’s it, that is why we are so drawn to these Christian events. They excite in us emotions that make us feel good about ourselves. But this we must be leery of, this we must guard ourselves against because our emotions were and still are, tainted by sin.
What does the bible teach us about coming to God? Does it say come to Him when you feel His presence and the music brings you to that place of comfort and peace? No, of course not, because we are not to come to God in an emotional response, we are to come to God in faith. The Bible teaches us that what pleases God is our faith, not our emotional response to some songs we sing on Sunday or at some event. If we truly want to please God and know His presence then we must know His Word and come to Him in obedience. Anything else is false and will leave you feeling empty. You won’t feel like coming to God at all.
Then it happened. The crack that began in my heart went to full blown broken in half. When the featured pastor got up on stage, the crowd erupted again in loud praise and screaming. We crucified the Lord of Glory with our wickedness and with our sins, yet we praise and follow blindly after a man. This, oh children of God, this should break our hearts!
Then he opened his mouth to speak. He picked apart the word of God to fit his own purpose and interests. He took the scriptures and completely disregarded context, history, purpose and Jesus! He pointed to self, desire and want. He barely even read the scriptures! He read a few words from a few verses and “expounded” on them; and his expounding was in complete error. Yet thousands of people were on the edge of their seat, blindly trusting this man to teach them about God. I had to get up and walk away. I wanted to scream at him, I wanted to cry! I was angry, hurt and breaking on the inside. I had to leave.
I made my excuses and went to the ladies’ room where I sat down in a stall and prayed. I prayed for the souls of the men and women who were there, who were raising their hands in vain worship. As I prayed the words of Jesus from Matthew 15:8-9 rolled around my spirit and settled into my soul. They were praising with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. My heart was completely and fully broken for the lost, for the men and women who were lost in a sea of guitar strings, smoke, lights and loud drums. I wanted to leave. I wanted to call my husband and have him come get me. But I knew I was there for a reason. I knew God allowed me to see all this for a purpose.
That was not worship. That was not church. That was a concert put on to fulfill the emotional desires of our hearts and make us feel good about the god we have created in our own image. So, what is to be done? What can I do? What can we do, as a body of true followers of Christ? We pray! We teach! We preach and we point people back to the God of the Bible. We have left Him for a god who likes loud music. We praise Him with our lips and our hands raised high, but in our hearts, we are far from Him, we do not know Him, nor do we seek to understand Him. If your heart breaks like mine does today, then I call out to you and I cry out to you to stand up and do something about it. Know God’s word for yourself! Know His word and walk in obedience to it. Today, my brothers and sisters is the day of salvation! The time is far spent, and we have let emotions overtake our faith. We have let vain worship enter the House of His Praise.
People need to see Jesus. They need to see the God of the Bible. Not the god represented in the book stores, or on the stages touring the country. They need to see Him in you, and in me. They need to be able to pick up the Word of God and know that it is truly Him because who He says He is, is who we are. This is my outcry! Will you join me?