By Bryan Edmonson
One of the things I have been very excited about at Lighthouse is hosting regular nights of worship. So far we’ve had one in September and one in November. After the holidays and the new year begins, we’ll have several scheduled for 2017.
So what is a night of worship? It’s an open-ended evening, usually a couple of hours long, so that we have time to sing to God and to express love and thanks to Him. Sometimes it will lead to us encouraging each other, exercising Christ’s command to love one another. Sometimes it leads to moments of sitting in silence, in awe of God’s greatness and power.
These last two nights of worship were very powerful times. There were moments when I could sense God’s pleasure over His children as we worshiped in unity. Moments like these remind me of the passage in 2 Chronicles when King Solomon presided over the dedication of the newly built temple in Jerusalem. As the priests worshiped and the ark of the covenant was brought in, God’s glory filled the temple to the point that the priests couldn’t stand up under the weight of His presence.
I believe moments like these are accessible to us today if we’re willing to spend the time worshiping God. Of course, the point of us gathering to worship isn’t to see what God will do for us. The point is to bring our offering, our sacrifice of praise to Him simply because He is deserving of it. However, the truth is that we can’t out-give God because to give extravagantly is in His nature. Scripture says that He inhabits the praises of His people. St. Augustine said that “the reward of God is God Himself.” So when we come to give our adoration to God, He comes and pours His adoration right back to us!
Just as the priests in Solomon’s temple were overwhelmed by God’s presence as they worshiped Him, we can be as well because we have been given their same role. The apostle Peter called all believers in Christ a “royal priesthood,” and in his book How To Worship a King, Zach Neese unpacks what this phrase means.
Neese explains that we, as priests, have three roles. First, we steward God’s presence to the world. This means we have been sent out as God’s ambassadors from His Kingdom to the world to share the good news to the lost and the broken. We help them come to know God and teach them how to worship Him.
Second, we bless other Christians. Now “bless” here doesn’t just mean “make someone feel good” as we typically take it. Rather, it means to propel someone into their God-given destiny or calling… similar to how in the Old Testament a father would give a blessing to his first-born son (which was a very coveted thing if you remember the story of Jacob and Esau).
Lastly, priests are called to minister to God, just as the Levites did in Solomon’s temple. This just means to worship Him for His sake. I make an emphasis here because sometimes we can make worship about us. Neese, commenting on the struggles some churches have had coming to terms with different styles of worship music writes, “We have made worship about us- our preferences, our tastes, our comforts, our opinions. We have made it about ministering to our needs and coddling our self-centered natures… When worship is for us, we become the object of worship, little gods in our own hearts. We become idolaters.”
Whoa, what an indictment! Unfortunately, his statement is true for many congregations because some Christ-followers have forgotten for Whom worship music is for and why we sing and play it.
Our nights of worship at Lighthouse are a chance to really dive into worshiping God just for the sake of loving on Him. Sometimes I like to facetiously say we’re “wasting time on God” knowing that any time spent in worship isn’t wasted. In fact, it’s a very wise thing to do because it’s an investment in your relationship with Him. It’s a chance to reveal some things in your heart to Him you may not have spent the time to dig into. It’s a chance to shake off resentment or disappointment you may not even know is there. It’s a chance to rest in His lap like a child and be renewed in your love for Him and your purpose in life. That all sounds like a good time to me!