Every morning for the past four years, I have led chapel at Central Arkansas Christian Elementary. The order of chapel is usually the same: welcome, boys lead a song, scripture reading, and prayer, I lead a couple songs and offer a devotional thought. One of the great things about participating in chapel is that I am on the front row, watching these young boys lead about 250 others in worship to God…every morning. It is such a blessing to begin our day worshiping God. And being able to see the growth and heart these young people put into their worship to the Almighty is encouraging to say the least. The Pre-K (3 & 4) join us. Even these little ones, in all their trepidation, have an opportunity to lead. I honestly cannot think of a better way to start the day.
As these elementary students lift their hearts to God, you can see their joy coming out. I am especially touched by the Kindergarten and 1st Graders. They have no fear. They are not ashamed. And they sing out mightily. One young boy, though not always on the correct tune, sings out so strongly the veins and muscles in his neck bulge. There’s a vein in his temple that pumps with each note he sings. Just taking a moment to reflect personally, I watch this boy, and others like him, and wonder why I struggle to express myself as joyfully and boisterously. As adults, we tend to be more reserve. Not always. Not everyone. But sometimes. Sometimes we hold back. Sometimes we approach God with trepidation as we worship which leads to an outward expression that is less than joyful. Why is that?
It may be that we are too self-aware. What I mean by that is we are too concerned with what we look like when we worship, or how others will perceive us as we worship. Sometimes we are too afraid that the veins and muscles in our neck and forehead will begin to bulge. So, we sing a little softer. Why are we so hung up on what other folks think? Why do we let that get in the way of our full praise and worship to God? Maybe it is our human nature. Maybe adult human nature. That Kindergarten boy who sings out so joyfully doesn’t have any reservations about what others will think or how he may be perceived by others. He understands that his goal and responsibility in that moment is to give God all the praise and honor he is due. This young boy understands that God loves him more than anyone else. This young boy understands that God will never leave him or forsake him. This young boy knows that had done great and mighty works for the benefit of his people. Because of all this, this young boy has no other option than to let his joy for all God has done come out in worship.
Perhaps our issue is that we have become desensitized to all that God has done in our lives. Maybe we fail to allow the reality of God and his love to penetrate our hearts on a daily basis. Maybe we just take for granted the grace and mercy of God. Maybe this has led us to where many are today – a lack-luster worship experience. Perhaps the issue is not so much about our becoming desensitized (though I believe we have) as it is our self-deception that worship is somehow supposed to be about me and what I get out of it. The truth is, though hard for us to live out, worship is not, and has never been, about me. Worship is always about God…and only God. When we lose sight of this fact, we find ourselves in places we were never created to be.
Worship wars exist today because we, as adults, have so distorted the meaning and intent of worship itself – to exalt God. We all hear and think of Jesus as being the Master Teacher. In his infinite wisdom, Jesus “calling to him a child…put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4). We can all learn a lesson from children. Worship to God is our response for the many and mighty works he has done for us. Worship to God is our expression of gratitude and joy. Worship to God is all about God…not us. We must become like a child.