Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eyes-Closed Worship

"Modern evangelical worship is not truly corporate worship. It is rather an assembly of individuals who worship God individually while standing in the same room together." (Unknown)

Note something in the videos below: All the saints are singing with their eyes wide-open. In Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth he identified several ways that the saints were misusing and abusing one another. Paul's solution to every abuse was the same: "Look to Christ and understand your union with him and all who are joined to him by faith."

Jesus died to unite his people to the Godhead in him (in Jesus). But he also died to unite us together as one body in him (in Jesus.) Worshipping with our eyes closed cuts us off from the very ones whom Christ died to unite us together with. Other saints are not distractions to be shut-out and ignored. They supply what we lack as we worship God in the assembly, and form a significant portion of the prize secured for us in Christ's death and resurrection.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, eyes-closed worship says, "I don't really need those around me to worship God in spirit and truth. And I really prefer to embrace Jesus "a la carte"; just the head, but not the body, thank you."

Eyes-open worship affirms our utter insufficiency apart from the many diverse members of Christ's body, and delights in God's gift of the same. Eyes-open worship embraces Christ as he offers himself; "totus Christus"; all of Christ, head and body.


Russell said...

I would respectufully disagree with your statement and perhaps the point of this whole post that says, "eyes closed worship says,'I don't really need those around me to worship God in spirit and truth." From reading this post and having worshiped in both styles in my life I would say that this post is quite a stretch. Worship is a really messy thing. So yes I could see how saints closing their eyes could lend itself to that. However, I could also say that the kind of psalm singing we see from your posts is a set up for distraction even though thats not the intent ...people trying to focus on only hitting the right note or focusing to much on the music director instead of the actual praise they are offering up to the Lord.

So what I am getting at here is I see what you are getting at with this post, but I dont think it has much weight since all forms of worship have their flaws because worship is done by flawed people. And we could worry about other people heart issues all day and forget our own while doing so.

Gene Helsel said...

Russell, thanks for the post and for the reminder of the unique temptations that four-part psalm-singing present. I agree completely. Yes, and amen. But it was not my intent to address the "content" of our singing in the post, but rather, "how" we sing what we sing. You agreed that worshipping eyes-closed could, as you said, "lend itself to" individualism in worship. So, why continue the practice? Why not acknowledge and embrace all of Christ (head and body) while singing praise choruses to him?

And I agree with you that worship is "messy" and offered up by "flawed" individuals. But shouldn't we still strive to make our worship as obedient to God's Word as possible?

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and concersn on this matter. - Gene Helsel

Nicole said...

Thanks so much for this, Pastor Helsel! Very well said, and I hope you don't mind that I linked to this from my facebook. If so, please let me know and I'll take it down! Anyway, hope you and yours are well--I've really enjoyed all your recent posts!

Gene Helsel said...

Nicole, link away. And, btw, just call me "Gene." Good to hear from you.

Derek said...

The point of having rehearsals like the ones shown in the videos is to make it possible for the saints to internalize the music to the point that they are no longer focused on "hitting the right note" or on the director. Once internalized they are simply singing as unto the Lord.

The analogy of dance lessons is appropriate. People go to dance lessons and count steps and concentrate on their feet in the hope that, when it is time to go to a real dance, they won't have to do any of those things. They will have internalized the steps and can simply dance.

What the videos demonstrate are (if you will) "dance lessons" for the saints.

Gene Helsel said...

Well said, Derek. Thanks.