by Pastor Terry Gee
An old worship axiom goes as follows: Worship like you are being watched.
Wait. Isn’t it the opposite? Aren’t you supposed to worship like no one is watching? I thought we were supposed to forget about everything and everyone around us in order to focus on God!
Ah, yes, that is the real axiom, and we should appreciate the sentiment - focusing on God during worship is paramount, as is refusing to bow to the fear of what others think of you. But let me flip this oft quoted concept on its head and let it round out a more complete picture of worship for us.
Let’s step back for a moment: The fact is that others are watching you everywhere you go. You are being watched at work. You are being watched at school. You are often being watched at home. Yet no one would tell you in those cases to pretend like you’re not being watched - “Remember, whether you eat a gallon of ice cream for breakfast in front of your children is just between you and the Lord…”
So not only are you are being watched, you are often responsible for what others think about what they see. It’s just a fact of life. But rather than ignoring it or being paralyzed by this, God says this is an opportunity. Did not Jesus command us to “...let [our] light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16)? So yes, we are watched. And if we live right, God is praised.
Now back to worship on Sunday morning - there too, you are being watched. You are being watched by your children, or other people’s children. You are being watched by those in your Branch or community group. The guy behind you is watching you and, even if you sit in the back row, you have the sound and multimedia team to contend with (and there have been unconfirmed reports of Pastor Cory sightings in the multimedia booth as well)!
Now before you get the heebie-jeebies about all this, before you start feeling uncomfortably observed, let’s quickly flip things on their head. The worship gathering is filled with opportunity to let your light shine (Matt 5:16 again). Nothing encourages me more than seeing a sister who I know is going through an incredible trial turning her eyes up to God, lifting her hands to Him and singing out of her need for Him, her trust in Him, her belief in His faithfulness. Or maybe it’s seeing a brother who is passionately pursuing God’s glory on his high school campus, standing firm as he sings of God’s coming reign. Perhaps nothing stirs my own heart like seeing someone else whose fire is blazing brightly in their worship to God. In seeing my brother worship, I am built up. When I see my sister’s faith, hurting yet alive, my own faith is bound up with hers and taken to a place of strength that mine would never have gone alone.
So you have a chance every Sunday to bring light to those who are watching you. Small sparks set fields on fire. Your deeply rooted, passionate expressions of worship will serve to build up those who are weak, those who are failing. You are being watched - and your worship testifies not only to the world, but to a watching church, of whom each member requires the fire within every other to burn for their own to glow in fullness. Your worship matters to God. Your worship matters to the entire church. Let us therefore bring worship to God that would build up those who gather with us.