Some years ago, while attending a church in California’s Bay Area, I found myself disturbed by something at first I couldn’t explain. The Sunday service began as do most Bible-based churches, with a time of praise and worship led by a music or praise minister. This church’s praise minister was also the senior pastor. The musicians were excellent. While there was no choir, as a more traditional denominational church might have, there were several vocalists that stood with the band. A large screen formed the backdrop to the stage and displayed the words to the songs. Each Sunday it was like attending a rock concert. . .
That was it! Praise is to be directed toward Heaven, not stopped at the stage. The musicians, the vocalists, the worship leader is there only to help the people direct their praise, their worship, toward the object of our faith, toward G-d the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. Here at this particular church the praise was too perfect, too well rehearsed. The people sang along but their praise didn’t leave the church, rather was absorbed by those on the stage performing for the people. They performed, not for G-d, but for the people.
Apostle Paul said “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Y’shua Mashiach as L-rd.” As ministers of Mashiach—Messiah, Christ—we are obligated to proclaim Y’shua as G-d. When we perform for the benefit of people, we are proclaiming ourselves, not Mashiach.
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus ‘sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. —2 Corinthians 4:5,6
There is another side to this matter. I once attended a workshop on music ministry. I recall that the pastor talking about Christian musicians’ failures when they fall prey to an audience that directs its worship toward the artist rather than the one that made the artist great. How many times have we seen a secular musician’s “fans” get out of control in their desire to just touch a celebrity? All the time. According to the pastor leading the workshop, this same type of thing happens in church, too, though not as overt, not as visible. Perhaps it begins with admiration of the praise team and its leader.. Eventually the praise team begins to feel it is something special and worthy of this admiration. This lead to P R I D E. What goes before failure, a fall? P R I D E.
As ministers of Mashiach, we are obligated to be aware situations in which we are becoming prideful. We are held to a higher standard. Our failures are greater, affect more people. When we are offered a simple praise, such as “Thank you,” our response may simply be “you are welcome.” But can we rather direct all praise to L-rd Y’shua Mashiach? Can we not answer the “thank you” with “Praise the L-rd!”