In my last post I said that worship is a spectrum ranging from light to heat. Just as Jesus said true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth, some people tend to worship more on the side of truth. I call them “Light Worshipers” not because they worship light, but because that is their style to worship with their thinker.. Others are “Heat Worshipers” because their style involves worship with their feeler.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
– When I Survey – Isaac Watts
Light Worshipers love songs like “When I survey.” Look at the great thinker stuff in that song. It says I look at the cross and then I make two choices based on my thinking. I count gains as loss and pour contempt on my pride. Of course, heat worshipers can love this song too. There is great emotion in these words but sadly most heat worshipers will never get a chance to sing this song because either their church will probably never sing it, or they will simply refuse to worship because it is a hymn.
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
– Oceans (When Feet May Fail) Joel Houston, Matt Crocker, Salomon Ligthelm
Heat worshipers like songs like Oceans. The key thoughts in this song are great feeler stuff. I rest in your embrace. I am yours and you are mine. The language is romantic. You can imagine those thoughts in a song about your girlfriend or boyfriend. Of course, light worshipers can love this song too. There are chooser declarations in it such as “I will call upon your name” and “keep my eyes above the waves.” Sadly most light worshipers will not worship to this song because either their church would never sing it or if they do many older light worshipers will simply refuse to worship to it because of the contemporary style and instrumentation.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV
True worshipers… will worship. They will find a way to get past their preferences. Heat worshipers will have to find a way to be obedient to this command of scripture to speak to one another with “with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” Speaking to one another is one way we worship with our thinker.
Light worshipers will have to find a way to be obedient to this command as well. They will have to learn to worship from the heart (feeler) “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:15 NIV
Immature heat worshipers need to learn to sing with understanding even when the song involves Organs and Orchestras. Keep in mind that one day the style of worship will move on from rock and roll bands to something else and if you are going to be mature you need to learn this.
In the 90’s people used to talk about “Worship Wars” to describe the painful struggle taking place in their churches. I grew up in The Church of the Nazarene which was was born in 1908. Back then the Nazarene church in Los Angeles where they met was called “The Glory Barn.” Their pastor Phineas F. Breese said about their building, “We want places so plain that every board will say welcome to the poorest.”
I think the early Nazarenes were mostly Heat worshipers. But then over time something happened. As generations came and went the Nazarenes became more Light oriented. My parents and many of you were raised in a time when the culture of worship for Nazarenes was mostly on the side of light.
In the late 80’s my church, Liberty Towers Church, began shifting rapidly to Heat worship and I can recall vividly the transformation as it took place. As a young man I was definitely more of a Heat worshiper (this is generally true of most people). I loved the changes but my parents did not and there was a war about worship.
It was called a war because there were casualties. When the church is at war people get hurt. People get angry and people leave. Some people decided that the answer was to divide. Let the Heat worshipers start new churches and let the light worshipers keep the old ones.
Maybe this was the best that we could do at the time but I found it very sad. My parents were a part of the older folks at Liberty Towers that left to go somewhere else. They went to a church that was just for light worshipers. Because light worshipers are mostly older their church had only old people. They loved their church because it was like the church they remembered from the early 80’s.
I went to a church in Washington that was one of a wave of new churches born in that era. These new churches were built to cater to Heat worshipers. Because Heat worshipers are mostly young there were very few old people at my church.
What is so very sad about this situation is that we need each other and instead of holding together we allowed this war to tear us apart. We need each other.
- Old needs young and Young needs Old.
- Light needs Heat and Heat needs Light.
The other reason this is tragic is that it took something so great, something we need so badly and turned it into a war zone so our worship was blocked by the sounds of war.
Who was right? Light or Heat? Neither. There is no right answer here. There is war or worship, true worship or false worship. So let’s stop fighting wars over worship and learn to say Amen even when the song isn’t our style.