Out of pride have I come, bearing false sacrifice
It has only belied the hardness inside
I am here to repent. Will You break through this stone?
Will You humble this soul? Make me acceptable?
-You Have Opened My Mouth by Ghost Ship
For the last couple of years I have felt extremely apathetic about worship. I've felt apathetic about a lot of things. Some of these things I used to care passionately about, but recently I've felt neutral or disinterested towards them. This isn't to say that I've been completely disinterested in worship, but most of the time I don't feel like the songs apply to me. So I guess I could say that most of the time I come bearing false sacrifice when I come to sing to God.
The last few years have been a dry patch for me spiritually. God has done amazing things in the past two years, but I definitely felt a separation from Him from what I used to feel. I was at a loss to find an answer to this new emotional state. After praying and waiting for months and months I finally realized that I had ceased to maintain my thankful attitude toward God because I had stopped reminiscing on His work in my life. That is why I started to blog again. I realized that blogging is where I really enjoyed (and found it easier than writing in my journal) writing about God's grace. What finally made me realize what started this dry spell was a statement made by Oswald Chambers. He wrote that worship "is giving to God the best that He has given you" (entry for January 6.).
Another element that added to my confusion was being confronted with enthusiastic singing at NU. Worship here is highly emotional (some people have described it as Jesus-is-my-boyfriend-lyrics) and highly repetitive. People raise their hands, clap, and dance. This was such a culture shock for me. My junior high youth group worship functioned much like this, but that was a long time ago for me. Since then I had gotten used to focusing on your response to the lyrics as the main point and not the emotions that everyone else had from the lyrics or music. I guess at my church worship is more introverted, but here it is extroverted.
I was comforted to know that I wasn't the only one who struggled to adjust to this style of worship. One friend explained that she doesn't express herself in worship the same way as the majority of NU students do. I agreed with her. My preferences in worship align much more with hymns. I like the mix of words and how many different parts of a story they try to tell. I struggle to "get into" repetitive songs that repeat the same nine words for twenty minutes (I'm not kidding).
I feel like judgment is so easy when it comes to worship. For people like me, it's easy to look at people who worship in an extroverted style and automatically assume that they are just being swept away by their emotions and that there is no real change occuring in their lives. This is so, so dangerous-not to mention sinful. I am in no position to look at my brothers and sisters and assume that I know their stories and their lives. Judgment is also easy from the other side. Extroverted worshipers might assume that just because I am not raising my hands or openly weeping I'm not worshipping.
As I mentioned at the beginning I can see how I was bringing false sacrifices of worship for the past couple of years, but this also happens to extroverted worshippers. This is one of the reasons I am so tempted to judge them: because I know that I do the same things. I present this false image in order to be accepted, but am I actually listening to the words I'm singing? Are they impacting my life? Maybe... Maybe not. Only God and I know.
So this school year has been interesting. I've struggled with understanding what worship looks like for me and what it looks like for other people. I've learned that I like worship songs that are like the music that I listen to, which is pretty low-key. I've learned that I do not like Jesus-is-my-boyfriend-lyrics being repeated endlessly. I am very grateful for Mars Hill and the worship they have there. They do a very good job of keeping the focus off of themselves and onto the lyrics and God. I think that's another issue I struggle with here; I feel like I'm distracted by the clothes, hair, makeup, or fancy vocal flourishes the singers throw into worship. ...But that's just me.
I guess the takeaway for me was that whether you worship outwardly or inwardly, you can still bring false sacrifice. But don't think you can look at your neighbor and see what it going on in their heads- leave that to God.
"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts... O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." -Psalm 51:6a, 15-17