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Worship is Messy

When you think of worship, don’t you imagine a clean, candlelit sanctuary where parishioners sing Holy, Holy, Holy? That’s the most common scene that Hollywood shows when it cues in on a church service. What doesn’t show in a clip like that is how messy worship really is.

Behind the façade of well dressed people quietly complying with culturalnorms of what has come to be known as “church” are real people withreal messy lives. In any given worship service across the world sit individualpeople with individual messes that they bring with them to worship. Though youcan’t always see it on their faces or in their behavior, it’s real.On occasion, you might witness the rebellious teen being dragged to worship andwitness a little of the mess. Sometimes a fight breaks out among younger siblingsthat is sure to have a strong consequence of guilt and shame all the way home.Every once in a while you note that Sister Kelly isn’t even acknowledgingSister Jane because they are fighting for control on the church committee.

It’s the people, not the clothes, song, or preaching that God considersworship. Sometimes He is the only One who will let Himself be aware of what isreally going on. He can handle it. He, above all persons, knows how messy worshipis. In fact, He designed worship that way. From Genesis 4 when Cain tried tobring Him the clean, beautiful offering of his hard-worked-for fruit and vegetables,God has insisted on the blood of an innocent animal to express worship. Abrahammade altars for worship in every place he met with God. The people of Israelwere given a tent for worship that was a pattern of heaven. The first piece offurnishing in the sparse outer room was an altar of sacrifice stained with bloodfrom the millions of innocent animals that had to be slain to attest to the messof the lives of worshippers. Worship is taking in the beauty of God and beingamazed that this beautiful God would be worshipped by someone who is such a mess.Your awareness of your mess makes you worship more majestically.

Yes, worship is messy. No one is less surprised by this than God. He is wellaware of the people who are singing Holy, Holy, Holy, and He knows fullwell that on any given Sunday the overwhelming majority of worshippers are notreally worshipping. They are appeasing their personal guilt, their fear of God,or their habits. They don’t make a true connection to the wonder, majesty,praise-worthiness of our God. That’s a mess He is willing to see, love,and set free. He wants us to know that worship involves our messy selves beforea holy God. In John 4:23 Jesus says, “Yet a time is coming and has nowcome when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, forthey are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” God is not afraid ofthe truth of the messes of our lives. He knows that for you to truly worshipHim, you need to worship in spirit and in truth. He knows there will be a mess.He made a way to clean the mess. It is with the blood of His only, perfect Son.

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