One great enemy of worship is religion. Not the kind of religion that speaks of caring for orphans and widows, intimacy with God and enjoying a healthy respect for our history and roots. But the kind that speaks of tradition, imitation, programmes, pride and worshipping the past.
A wonderful pastor was opening a new church and asked me to come and lead worship at the opening, a task I accepted. He told me that since they were a new church, they did not have a band, and so he had invited a band to play along with me. I was perfectly okay with this, until it slipped out that the band were not Christians!
Immediately my religious “gland” set to work and a kind of righteous, all knowing attitude seemed to cloud my every thought. “How could these non-Christians follow the Spirit and move in anointed worship. They surely shouldn’t play alongside me in the presence of a holy God!”
I asked the pastor to cancel the band, an assignment which he immediately accepted, then forgot.
The day came and in walked a group of highly colourful individuals, complete with Rasta hats, and announced to me, “We are de band”. We began to practice and the band, who were all great musicians, immediately turned everything I played into Reggae! The meeting came and my well-polished worship time turned into a Reggae party!
To my surprise, as the worship went on, we soon found ourselves singing in tongues and getting lost in rapturous worship! Within a few minutes it seemed as if God’s presence rolled into the hall around us, people fell to the ground, and some screamed out, in need of deliverance.
Part way through the increasing “mess” of heaven’s touch, I noticed the guitar had stopped playing, and as the guitarist was behind me, I peered around to see why. There, just behind me, this wonderful young guitarist was kneeling, tears streaming down his face, giving his life to Jesus. By the end of the meeting his wife and child, who had come to watch, were also saved.
It is amazing how my religiosity, my sense of right and wrong, sacred and secular, was completely different to God’s. My upbringing, my arrogant sense of knowing “how to do things” was actually nothing more than shallow human religion, based on past experiences.
That day I heard a chuckle from heaven, as if God looked at me and said; “Hey little man; I’m the boss. You just do what I tell you to do. I’m actually not that bothered about your opinions!”