IS OUR WORSHIP FOCUSED ON FATHER?
AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN TERRI WHITE and JOHN GAVAZZONI
ON NARCISSISM IN WORSHIP
John wrote: “I wonder, at times, how much narcissism there is in our “praise and worship”, how much we are looking with admiration at ourselves, saying, “Wow, I’m really praising the Lord excellently”, as opposed to being utterly de-selfed while staring into the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Terri responded: Bingo!! Sad… but I suspect your ‘wondering’ is probably right on target, John.
For myself… in the days when I used to spend hours in ‘worship’ in my private times and with the body of Christ, my focus was on Him and only wanting to be in His presence. I knew that He lived within me, but lacked the revelation of what that really meant. His PRESENCE lived within and I didn’t need to pray Him down or worship Him up. It was a NEED I had, though, and that is the clincher. I needed to be in His presence. So sub-consciously, it was ‘me focused’ while all the time I thought I was totally focused on Him. Gee, John, I was into prophetic dance and song; I was a ‘leader’ in all of that. I’ll never forget when we left the institutional church and I went through ‘withdrawals’ from the group worship thing. It was then that I realized what was happening. Nevertheless, God is merciful, and meets us where we are. Ever gently revealing Himself, planting those seeds that WILL bear fruit one day… however long it takes.
You’ve beautifully described the passage so many of us went through, Terri, and yes, you’re right, He was with us in all of it, and it was all necessary to bring us to where we are now. I went through the whole gamut, in the musical dimension of ministry, from being a congregation-rousing, Baptist-style song leader, to leading worship, like you, in a very vital charismatic church, replete with outward demonstration, including dancing. I thank the Lord for that season of our lives.
It is a quantum leap in understanding to realize that the Presence we so needed and relished, in truth, we ARE in this world. In union with our Head, we are the mystery of godliness revealed, God manifested in the flesh. Only Jesus Christ of Nazareth was that Presence in the flesh and in this world individually, but we are His corporate fullness.
This has been powerfully confirmed to me of late through fellowship with a dear brother who is a Greek scholar and has been busy translating portions and whole books of the N.T. lately. Jonathan Mitchell is his name, and what he has pointed out is how clear the Greek is in regard to, particularly Paul, addressing the saints as a corporate singleness. That is, it is very clear that we, many, are One, and it is as One that the promises of God are given to us, and it is only as One that we can receive and manifest them fully.
For me, at least, it helps explain the dearth of emotion that we often experience in order to be weaned away from yearning for His Presence in order to live in the full awareness of BEING His presence.
I recently returned from a small, informal conference where the fellowship and the ministry of the Word was very rich, yet, as I observed the “worship”, I realized afresh how much of it was not really FOR the Lord, but was something that the people needed emotionally. There was clearly an addiction element to it all. They could not feel satisfied and could not feel that they’d really touched the Lord and had a good meeting without getting their musical “kicks”.
Musically, the general “honky-tonk” style places the message in a cultural context that falls short of that which will finally reach out to the world in a way that will not cause many to feel that they just would not be able to belong.
Yet, this, as with all things, is of God. The temptation to become cynical in it all is overcome by the realization that God is unfailingly right on target and on time in the revelation of Jesus Christ.
IS OUR WORSHIP FOCUSED ON FATHER? [John R. Gavazzoni and Terri White] 1