Leading worship is a stewardship in which we’re privileged to participate and serve, caring for what belongs to God. We are primarily receivers and responders, not worship creators, designers, innovators, architects, producers, engineers or visionaries. As children of God, our primary identity is receiver of His grace as the Author of our faith. This leads us to respond in worship. As a worship leader, you are a lead receiver and first responder.
Consider this: You can’t be a Christian if you can’t receive a gift. To be a Christian is to receive God’s gift of grace to believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ on behalf of all sinners. We are not Christians if we have not received this grace. And we cannot mature and grow as Christians if we are not continually receiving all that we need from Christ, who is all and in all (Col. 3:11).
In the same way, our calling to receive from the Lord is the basis of our worship. Worship begins with God who initiates and calls us to worship Him. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that God is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth because “the hour has come when true worshipers will worship in Spirit and Truth” (John 4).
Here, Jesus announces Himself as the Messiah, the new and perfect Temple of God by which we can now boldly enter God’s throne room and worship Him there. The hour of Christ’s death and resurrection and intercession for us before God’s throne has come! To worship in truth is to worship this Jesus, who is the Truth. To worship in Spirit is to worship from our hearts, through the Spirit of Christ in us. We can only come to God through Jesus.
Our worship of God results from something God does: He seeks us who are lost, saves us by the merits of His own unblemished blood, and calls us to worship Him for His glory and grace. True worship emerges from the Father’s pursuit of us, not from our pursuit of Him. (Read that again and let it sink in.) We are beneficiaries of His salvation and love. We do not manufacture worship of God. No, we worship in response to our adoption, our salvation by God and our imperishable inheritance with Christ!
As worshipers and worship leaders, we need to be far more aware of God’s pursuit of us than we are of what we think is an “appropriate” worship response. When we focus on receiving from the Lord, we will naturally respond by magnifying His grace. This should be the aroma of our worship gatherings.
We shouldn’t be able to contain our astonishment of what Christ has done for us!
Giving great attention in our gatherings to what we have received from Christ will yield humble awe and joyful worship. The truth that we have received (what we know about God), animates our worship and stirs our souls to sing.
God has called His people to be faithful. He’s graciously given us His Spirit, who inspires us to faithfully follow the way of Christ as we persevere in loving and serving our Lord and His Church here on earth. No matter what particular area(s) of service God has called you to, you will not be able to effectively serve if you have not first learned to receive salvation and grace from the Lord.
Child of God, remember who you are. Remember whose you are. Remember who you have received and what He has done for you. Remember to receive from the Lord and call your congregations to receive from the Lord. Remember that worship does not originate with us, but it is our God-inspired response to His glorious gift of grace!
This post was inspired by a sermon titled “Faithful to Receive,” recently preached by Craig Cabaniss at WorshipGod 2013, a conference hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries.