As I prepared for worship on Sunday, I knew that attendance would be down, because of Spring Break. I also knew that we would be operating with a minimal crew to lead the worship service. Normally, these two things would have caused me to come to worship expecting a down Sunday, not just in attendance, but in energy and enthusiasm. Instead, I came anticipating an awesome encounter with God. Coming off of an amazing worship experience one week before, I desired to continue that positive approach. I was not disappointed.
Reading Experiential Worship has been a positive challenge to me. At the very beginning of the book, the author makes the point that those of us who lead in worship set the tone for the experience that people will have. If we come expecting to encounter God ourselves, others will join us. There will always be some who don’t get it, but the majority will follow the lead of those who are up front. I believe that happened this past Sunday.
Many times we come to worship less than prepared to encounter God. We may come out of duty, obligation, or just habit. We drag in, tired and worn thin from the week. Sometimes we collapse in our seats and become pure spectators. Our experience is dull and boring and leaves us flat. But if we would come to worship with a sense of anticipation, we would have a totally different experience. How we come to worship is a conscious choice on our part.
King David fostered the proper attitude for coming to worship in Psalm 122:1. I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." David recognized that going to worship was both a privilege and a delight. There were so many things that weighed David down, so many things that discouraged him. But David saw going to worship as an opportunity to be refreshed and renewed.
The Apostle Paul picked up on the concept of “our attitude matters” in Philippians 4:4-7. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. To the Thessalonians he wrote: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
In both of these passages, Paul is challenging us to adjust our attitude up. Of all people, Paul never took lightly the struggles of life, yet he chose to rejoice in the Lord. He chose to rejoice, not in spite of his circumstances, but in the midst of them. He rejoiced in the Lord’s grace, compassion, and care. This was fueled by an unwavering trust in the goodness of God. He was able to overcome unbelievable circumstances because he kept his eyes on Jesus.
Out of Paul’s God-focused attitude, he was able to write some of the most challenging and encouraging words to us as we struggle with the circumstances of our lives.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9,16-18)
Our attitude doesn’t just shape how we come to worship. It shapes everything that we do. Our perception of our daily world is dictated by what we expect of our daily world. And the image that we portray to our world clearly reflects the attitude of our hearts, even when we try to fake it.