In a sermon that Pastor Mark Driscoll preached last Sunday on the 2nd commandment (do not have any idols), he said this in regards to corporate worship:
Sometimes a well-meaning but theologically understudied worship leader will say it this way, “Welcome to our church, and today it’s my great pleasure to usher you into the presence of God.” Ooh, now you’re a pagan priest, with a guitar.
What you’re saying is that the music will get you closer to God. Now we’re not worshiping God, we’re worshiping worship. We’re worshiping song. We’re worshiping the experience that we receive from the sounds that we hear. Is it OK to say, “I love to sing because I love Jesus. I love to hear God’s people sing.” “‘God inhabits the Bible,’ says the praises of his people. “I feel God’s presence, not through the music, “but the music helps to awaken my emotions “and affections and my heart toward God, “but I know that I am close to God because of Jesus, not because of the music.”
-From sermon entitled “II. Have No Idols,” preached on 9/22/13 from the sermon series Ten Commandments: Set Free to Live Free
Driscoll said these words right after talking about the problem with entering an old, beautiful, stained-glass church and saying “I feel closer to God here.” Here’s why saying that is idolatry:
How many of you have many even done this or said this, you walk into, let’s say, a religious building, all right—a church or a mosque or a synagogue—and it’s beautiful, it’s amazing. You say, “I feel so close to God here.” Idolatry. What you’ve just said is, “The building brought me closer to God.” The building can’t get you any closer to God than Jesus has already gotten you.
The problem here has to do with us treating some entity other than Jesus as our mediator. Whether it’s a building or music, it cannot bring us “any closer to God than Jesus has already gotten you.” Our only meditator between us and God is Jesus, the God-man (1 Timothy 2:5). Nothing else in all of creation can bring us closer to God. Driscoll’s point is that to treat anything other than Jesus as a mediator between God and ourselves is idolatry.
Do you agree with Driscoll? Does a worship leader “usher you into the presence of God”?
For more thoughts on corporate worship, see my earlier post entitled “Worshipping as a Church in Spirit and Truth to Truly Glorify God”