Author: Justin Ririe
Can we worship “wrong”?
Please join me for a moment in focusing on the Sunday morning church service, wherever that might be for you. As we reflect on this important time of worship where we collectively sing praises to our Lord and Savior, I can’t help but wonder, are we missing something? At Sonrise Baptist Church, are we falling short in our worship? Are we worshipping “wrong”? If we show up on Sunday morning, lifting our voices in a cacophony of adoration, will the Lord automatically accept our praises?
The simple answer is -drumroll please- NO!
To support this claim, I refer you to the first two brothers that graced this planet, you guessed it, Cain and Abel. Genesis 4: 1-15 brings us their story. To summarize, Abel offers to the Lord the appropriate animal sacrifice, and Cain provides what appears to be, well, a salad (fruits, grains, and veggies). These acts of worship were one of the first recorded in the bible and a good example to all of us about how we are, or aren’t, to worship. The story reveals that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s. To put it in other words, God rejected Cain’s worship. Robin Mark comments in his book, Warrior Poet in the 21stCentury: “Two offerings, two different types of offerings, but one rejected and one accepted.” He goes on: “I want to suggest to you that the quality of Cain’s gift is not the issue here. Rather, it is the motivation behind the gift that is the real problem” (Mark, 2007, p. 64).
Motivation is critical, foundational, pivotal, and at the crux of acceptable worship. Now I ask you again, Sonrise Baptist Church, are we falling short in our worship? Why do you sing, why do you play your instrument, why do you run the sound board, the projection system, greet people, teach Sunday School, youth group, work in the nursery, why do you do anythingat the church? If your answer is anything other than to bring glory to God and further His kingdom, then I’d invite you now to please stop, and fix your motivation! Sonrise Baptist Church, don’t make the mistake of thinking that God will alwaysaccept our acts of worship! If our heart (motivation) isn’t right, he will reject our worship just like Cain’s salad offering.
If you’re not sweating a little at this point in the blog, then I’ve underperformed. Let’s see if we can make this more personal for you. We know worship is about our heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect, thank God for that. But what does it say about our heart (again, motivation) when we constantly show up late for engagements, when we don’t meet our obligations, when throw together a lesson, a music set, a project, or neglect a commitment? What does that say about YOUR motivation? We know we don’t have to be “perfect” singers, teachers, leaders, musicians, etc., we know we don’t need to produce a “perfect” Sunday morning service, but that is NOT an excuse of laziness! Again, where is your motivation?
I, for one, would be the first to raise a hand in admission to these acts of degradation. I believe that God has rejected my worship before as I have been guilty of wrong motivation in my own worship in the past. However, despite our egregious actions of selfishness, God can still use our inappropriately prepared worship for His glory. He can still use us! His grace extends to the most maleficent offenders among us. The goal of this post is not to make you feel guilty or unappreciated or to make you angry, but to encourage you to examine your motivation, examine your heart.
Again, Sonrise Baptist Church, are you worshipping correctly? Are you worshipping like Cain or like Abel?
Mark, R. (2007). Worship: The Pursuit of God . In Warrior Poets of the 21st Century: A Biblical and Personal Journey in Worship (pp. 62-64). Greenville, SC: Ambassador International.