Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
As humans we have a hard time when it comes to focusing. Attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Goldfish have an attention span of about 5 seconds. I’m convinced that mankind will one day be on the same level if nothing changes.
While focus in our everyday lives can be a struggle, what about in worship? How can we improve our focus when we come together each week? Before we even assemble, we should be preparing to focus on worship.
Isaiah 29:13 says, “…Because this people draw near with their words, And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”
They drew near to God with words, just like we do in singing songs each Sunday.
They honored God with their lips, much like we do in our prayers each week. What they were saying sounded good! But, if our hearts are not in worship, we have failed God.
Isaiah writing on God’s behalf says that their “reverence consisted of tradition learned by rote.” This word reverence is the the Hebrew word for “fear.” You may have heard that every time you read the word “fear” in the Bible to replace it with the word “respect” or “reverence.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Hebrew language has a word for respect, and this isn’t it. It means literal fear.
In fact, the Greek equivalent of this word is Phobos, which is where we get our English word phobia. For example, if you have arachnophobia you have a fear of spiders. If you saw a spider crawling on your leg, and you are afraid of spiders, you’re not going to look at it and go, “I respect you.” That’s not how fear works; you’re going to use any means necessary to dispatch the threat.
So we are supposed to worship in fear? YES.
Focus out of fear and awe of WHO we are worshipping. We are singing to the creator.
We are praying to the God who parted seas, spoke the world into existence, and guided the Israelites with a pillar of fire. We are worshipping the King of Kings, the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the One with no beginning or end, we are bowing down before the Most Holy God of the Universe.
If we realize what we are doing in worship, we can’t help but feel a little fear. Isaiah says, their worship was done through traditions learned “by rote.” This literally means, “Mechanical or habitual repetition.” We may be physically singing and look like we are worshipping God, but only the individual and God above know what is going on in the heart.
Isa. 12:5 “sing to the Lord.” This requires FOCUS, not mindlessly singing songs.
There are songs for each other, and songs directed toward God. “I want to be a worker for the Lord” …do we mean it? We can’t sing “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” on Sunday when all throughout the week all we’ve done is sit down. Focus on the words.
God would rather hear a tone deaf person who sings with their heart and mind, then a classically trained singer who only focuses on what it sounds like to them. Sunday morning worship comes once a week; it can be easy to let it turn into a mindless habit. Train your mind to focus on every act of worship. Don’t let worship become something we do out of tradition or habit. Focus on WHO we have come together to worship.