Worship or Idolatry: A Wake Up Call

My friend Bryan writes at an awesome blog called theycallmepastorbryan.  A few days ago he posted this quote which knocked my anabaptist socks off.

Teresa (of Avila) and John (of the Cross) both say that we easily become so attached to our feelings of and about God that we equate them with God. We forget that these sensations are only speaking to us of the divine One. They are only messengers. Instead, we take them for the whole of God’s self, and thus we wind up worshipping our own feelings. This is perhaps the most common idolatry of the spiritual life.

— The Dark Night Of The Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth

I remember worship services where the music blew my mind.  They elicited emotions out of me that I never expected.  I also remember worship services where the music was mundane, and boring.    They merely elicited a strong desire for me to sleep. Upon leaving the worship space, on one particular occasion, I remember uttering the words “I didn’t get much out of that worship service!”

This quote is a wake up call.

In the church world (or maybe just the churches I have encountered over my 5+ years in ministry) the worship conversation seems to be endless.  People seem to carry all sorts of opinions on how a worship service should go, what type of songs, what type of instruments, and so on and so forth… and so on and so forth.

Personal preference is not the point.  It is scary to think about.  If the point of worship is to achieve particular emotions or feelings ‘about God’ while worshiping God we tread dangerously into the world of idolatry where we worship our feelings.

Worshiping ourselves is not cool.

The threat of idolatry becomes a wake up call to those churches found in a seemingly endless debate related to drums, hymnals, guitars, microphones and organs.  The point isn’t preference.  The point is God.  To be any other than God becomes idolatry.

What do you think?  What is meaningful worship for you and why?  What is the difference between meaning and personal preference? 


  1. Andi · May 24, 2012

    Our church is going through a worship centred change as we speak. The Church is being cut down to one service and split into two groups, essentially old vs young and rejoining to hear the sermon. I am not comfortable with this idea as it separates the young from the old. Kind of like “Men sit on one side and women on the other”. I think it’s being done to draw younger people into the church and keep the older people happy.

    • chris lenshyn · May 25, 2012

      Hmmm. Very interesting. The first I’ve heard of this kind of change.

      I too would feel strange about the separation… I would be interested in hearing how this change goes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s