All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. -- 1Corinthians 12: 11 (ESV)
It seems every few months I have to do a devotional about the worship of Almighty God. The reason is that seemingly in this seeker friendly church landscape, Christians have literally no idea what worship is and what it is not. We must understand that the genesis for this phenomenon is rooted in the false theology of Rick Warren and the purpose driven church model. Rick openly tells the story about how when he was going to open his mega church that he canvassed the surrounding neighborhoods in order to find out what the unsaved masses wanted in the church they never attended. Not surprisingly, they did not want a lot of Jesus but entertainment was at the top of their list. Church was known for those crusty old hymns and the goats wanted club lighting, smoke machines and rock and roll. So Warren gave it to them just like Bill Hybels removed all crosses from his sanctuary at Willow Creek for the same reasons. Seems that the image of the cross offended those for whom Jesus died. Thus the madness started sinking in. With this shift towards worldly music disguised as worship, there was money to be made and people stepped in to take advantage of that. Thus the Hillsongs and Jesus Cultures of the world were born and their craft has spread like cancer throughout the body of Christ.
The problem was not only fueled by the desire to entertain people instead of actually worshiping the Creator of the universe. It was also corrupted by the fact that these outfits were sitting under such egregious false teaching to begin with that there was literally no chance their music would end up being biblically sound and pleasing to God. Yes, there are some Hillsong and Jesus Culture songs that seem to stay true enough to Scripture but a lot of it does not and what we repeat over and over again becomes our theology. Think about it beloved. The "hook" in a worship song is the often repeated portion that can go on for several minutes. I remember one prayer service where we sang three words, "let it rain", for twenty straight minutes. Thirty years ago the hook was "How Great Thou Art"; which meant that we reminded ourselves over and over again how great God is. Not only was this very pleasing to God but it continually reinforced sound theology. God is great. Overwhelmingly great! Fast forward those thirty years however and now the hook becomes, "How He loves me." That may seem subtle because it is how the devil designed it but take a look at what worship has devolved into. Where once we were reinforcing the greatness of God now we are reinforcing our own greatness. It is not worship to tell God over and over again how much He loves you! It is narcissistic at best draped in false piety.
Hillsong is led by Brian Houston and Jesus Culture came out of Bill Johnson's church. These are two of the top ten heretics on the planet. Brian Houston's empire is built upon a version of the prosperity gospel so blatantly unapologetic that Houston himself wrote a book entitled, "You Need More Money." He markets his false church model of cultural relevance without the trappings of the actual Gospel all around the world. Bethel Church in Redding California is ground zero for many different heresies courtesy of Bill Johnson. They are heavy into the false signs and lying wonders gospel. Johnson has had fake "glory clouds" appear at services, claims of angel feathers fall around him in diners, gemstone manifestations, gold dust appearing for no reason, and allows anyone to come up and prophesy on open mic Prayer Services, each Friday night. He believes God always must heal you despite wearing corrective eyeglasses. He has supported grave sucking, where kids spend the night at the tomb of a dead false teacher in order to suck off some "residual anointing." Johnson also runs a "School for the Supernatural" where he thinks you can teach people the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which our key verse today clearly says you cannot. The Spirit gives out the gifts as He decides. So is it any wonder when these money making music machines produce something it is far removed from the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I can't outrun
This heart I am tethered to
When every step
I collide with you
Like a tidal wave crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane that I can't escape
Tearing through the atmosphere
Your love is fierce
This is a song snippet from the lyrics to one of Jesus Culture's new songs, "Fierce." The only thing fierce about this is the level of inappropriateness. This song seems like it could be sung by Barry White instead of Joel Houston and no one would know the difference. The sentiment belongs in a Harlequin Romance Novel, not praising and worshipping the King of Kings. Tethered to your heart? Tidal waves crashing over me? You are a hurricane tearing through the atmosphere? Just as the theology and purpose driven teachings seek to mix the carnal with the holy, so does this. We love God as our Creator. We love God as our deliverer. We do not love Him as our boyfriend. I remember an old Rick Pino song that asked Jesus to lead us into His chambers. What? I shouldn't feel the need to shower after singing a worship song.