November 20, 2013
During an inspiring lunch conversation last week with a young worship leader, Daniel, he was telling of his growth as a worshiper and said something profound. Basically, he was highlighting a recent shift in mindset from coming to corporate worship seeking his own pleasure to seeking God’s pleasure. As a result, he loves singing songs that spotlight Christ and the gospel! As he was explaining this to me, I realized that it is not a matter of one or the other (my pleasure vs. God’s pleasure), but simply a matter of priorities between the two. John Piper’s Desiring God has forever ruined me as a pleasure seeking worshiper of my Lord! Piper’s basic premise was that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him. Therefore, we ought to seek our pleasure in him … in fact worshipping God should be one of the greatest pleasures in life! Ever since reading Piper’s book, I have joined King David in declaring:
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalms 16:11 ESV)
However, if I come to the worship service seeking my own pleasure first, am I not coming to God on my own agenda, with myself as the focus? Elevating my experience first and foremost is anti-worship to God. It is idolatry, worshiping the worship experience. This is a subtle and dangerous shift of priorities! The desires to experience God are not wrong, in fact, often very good. I am deeply moved when we sing songs that cry out for a greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our church, moving our hearts to repentance, and faith demonstrated by works of extraordinary love, evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit. But when my personal desires become the main thing, it leads to putting too much emphasis on the experience, too much responsibility on those planning the service, leading worship, or preaching to make it an extraordinary experience for me. This creates critical worshipers, often unsatisfied and having to blame others when it doesn’t measure up to their expectations or desires. On the other hand, if I come seeking first and foremost to bring pleasure to God, I will find myself utterly satisfied and full of joy in his presence every week. I will find equal pleasure and sing with equal passion whether I’m singing a new hymn about the person and work of Christ (Daniel’s favorite song, Sovereign Grace Music’s All I Have is Christ), or a Hillsong United prayer asking God for a deeper faith, being led by His Spirit (Oceans). While I can point to weeks where the Holy Spirit moves more powerfully in my life in the worship service, there is never a week where I walk away unsatisfied from fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. It all comes down to my priority in worship, my pleasure, or God’s pleasure? God’s pleasure is my greatest pleasure!
Please join me each week at Trinity or with your own church family, experiencing great joy in the Lord’s presence together because we come seeking to bring pleasure and delight to our God who is worthy of all praise!