October 12, 2011
I’ve been doing a lot of thought, study and teaching on the topic of loving God. It is not only my personal pursuit as his child, but it is the primary goal of my vocation as a worship pastor @ Trinity Church.
A little over ten years ago I drafted my first Philosophy of Worship Ministry as part of a summer internship I did with Jeff Moore, the Worship Pastor at Trinity Church. As I wrestled to define worship and uncover its purpose, I arrived at this simple statement:
“The simplest and most comprehensive definition that I can think of is this: Worship is fulfilling the Greatest Commandment. Jesus was the one who took this Old Testament law called the Shema, and called it the most important.”
“Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” (Mark 12:29–31 ESV)
On our website I have this listed as the goal of worship ministries:
Worship Ministries exists for the purpose of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Members of the Worship Ministries teams seek to cultivate a contagious passion among the people of Trinity Church for loving the Lord. They employ their creative and artistic gifts as a means to celebrate the truths about God and respond in heartfelt worship to Him.
Trinity Church’s mission statement begins, “We are a community of Christ-followers longing to glorify God by loving God…”
I propose that glorifying God by loving Him is the most important aspect of our lives and ministry. Herein lies the primary purpose of Worship Ministries: loving God! We ought to go to the Scriptures seeking a standard by which we can measure our love for God. I, along with my Worship Planning Team, were profoundly moved and challenged by the answer to this question in Gary Inrig’s sermon on John 14 called, Knowing God. Jesus often talked about the Father demonstrating love for us. This may be the only time Jesus talked about us demonstrating love for him, so it is worth taking it to heart.
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21 ESV)
Here’s a great clip from Gary’s teaching on this passage:
We can sing of our love to God. There is nothing wrong with that if it truly comes from our hearts. From a human perspective, hearing the words, “I love you,” when they are truly meant is one of the greatest joys to my soul. The absence of those words from our loved ones, especially our mothers and fathers, is often highly damaging to our souls. But how much more sweet and foundational is the demonstration of that love! That’s what Jesus is saying to us. Our love is demonstrated by our obedience.
Before we continue, it is important to avoid a common misperception about our obedience to God’s commands. Our obedience demonstrates our love. It in no way earns God’s love! Obedience is not out of compulsion or guilt or fear or trying to earn favor with God. All of that has been cared for by Jesus demonstrating his love for us. The Scriptures say, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) We must remind ourselves of the gospel, daily, because our tendency is to get it backwards. (Herein lies a major role of worship: we sing the gospel, we are taught the gospel, we read it from the Scriptures, we act it out, we dance it out, we write it in our stories, we capture it in our films and on canvas. Why? In order to remember.) The gospel reminds us that obedience is our worship response to the unconditional, perfect love of our Heavenly Father. Obedience is the demonstration of our love, the expression of “I love you,” to the Lord.
To be continued…