Psalm 69: 30-31a
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord.
Sometimes I leave church invigorated. I’m pumped up. I’m going to stand up for God. I’m going to be a holy warrior. I’m going to read my Bible every day and pray continually.
Sometimes, though, I don’t. I leave feeling flat. I didn’t really like the music. I didn’t get anything out of the sermon. So if I’m leaving church feeling like I’ve wasted my time, it must be the church. I need more energy, so I’m going to a contemporary service. Or, I need more reverence, so I’m going to a traditional service.
I mean, isn’t the purpose of a worship service to make me feel good?
Perhaps I should look inward. In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says, “If you have ever said, I didn’t get anything out of worship today,’ you worshiped for the wrong reason. Worship isn’t for you. It’s for God.” If our reasons for coming to worship are self-serving, then we have missed the point.
Whether I sing loudly and dance to praise songs with my hands in the air, or slowly, reverently sing hymns with my eyes closed, what matters is that I do it all for God’s pleasure. I have found that if I go to a worship service searching for that “Jesus feeling,” I leave empty, and paradoxically, if I try to please God, I often get a good feeling. But the feeling is not what matters.
There will be songs we don’t like, and there will be bad sermons. But we must be willing, out of love for God, to put aside our petty preferences and serve Him. So next time you attend a worship service, I encourage you to seek God’s pleasure, not your own.