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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Multiethnic Worship: What Does God Desire?

We continue our series exploring how disparate groups can come together in communal worship for the sake of justice and reconciliation. The following article was originally published by Royce Morris for Proskuneo

Multi-ethnic worship is not a new technique for reaching people from diverse backgrounds. It is not merely a response to the global migration that is happening at a staggering pace. It does not mean catering to the comfort zones and heart music of the people in our congregations.

It is bigger than us…our preferences, our grooves, our desires, our music, our ways. It is more than hands folded or hands raised, fast or slow, loud or soft, active or still.

Many times as we approach the subject of worship, we are asking the wrong questions. What kind of music do they like? What are the felt needs of the congregation? Who is our target audience? In what ways can we best worship God? But, what if, instead, we were to ask the question: What does GOD desire?

Ephesians 5:10 exhorts us to “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Instead of focusing on what is pleasing to us, let’s find out what pleases God. As we look throughout the Scriptures, we see…

God desires the nations to worship Him
The ten commandments begin by proclaiming that God alone is to be worshiped, revered, and adored. Psalm 86:8-9 says, “There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.” Notice that this text (among others like Acts 17:26) clearly states that God created the nations.

How might the realization that God created the nations affect your perspectives on cultures, ethnicities, and diversity? In this text we notice that all nations (quite an inclusive term!) will come and worship God. It will happen. It is part of God’s wise plan.

God desires the nations to worship Him together
In Revelation 7:9,10 John gives us a glimpse of heaven. In it, “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb… and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

As we consider what that must have looked like and sounded like to John, we hear the words of Jesus’ prayer… “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We don’t know a lot about what heaven is like. But it is clear from Revelation 7 and other passages that there will be multi-ethnic worship in heaven for eternity. I am willing to join my prayer with Jesus’ and work for the rest of my life to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven as it relates to multi-ethnic worship. Are you?

God desires the worship of the heart 
The Bible is largely silent when it comes to appropriate forms of worship. What instruments are appropriate or not appropriate? How long should a service last? Should we use powerpoint or hymnals? What should the preaching style be? Should we sit in pews, in chairs, or on the floor?

In fact, when Jesus was questioned by the Samaritan woman at the well about the form of worship, He chose to redirect the conversation. Instead, Jesus said that God is seeking worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Romans 12 links worship with heart issues such as surrender, humility, service, and community rather than with any musical style.

God desires Jesus to be exalted
Philippians 2 makes this abundantly clear. At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess His lordship. Jesus Himself is the Unifier of the Church. He is the Head of the church (Eph 1:22), our peace (Eph 2:14), and His Spirit is the Spirit of unity (Eph 4:3).

In our churches today, we seem to seek to be unified by so many things…a common mission, a cool brand, a socio-economic status, a shared language, a preferred musical style. We must be careful not to supplant Jesus. He deserves to be the Unifier of the church.

As God’s people, may we give Him what He deserves…the praise of all people. And may we offer Him what He desires…the worship of the nations together. Let us not travel the path of least resistance. Let us not be content with our cultural defaults. Let us not focus on form, but on Christ. Let us do so together. And may He receive glory in the church forever and ever!

Proskuneo exists to glorify God and promote unity in the Body of Christ through multilingual, multicultural worship gatherings, worship resources, and training of believers in order that lives be transformed and nations come together to worship God.

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1 comment:

  1. Many thanks to Diane, who first connected me with Proskuneo some time ago. Glad I'm finally getting around to sharing some of their great stuff with BTSF!


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