Wow, the Kingdom of God is just inside out, upside down and back to front.
It says several times in Matthew that “the last will be first, and the first will be last”, and while there is much depth in this simple statement to be pondered, I have been considering it recently in regards to worship, my role as a worship leader and as someone writing, recording and selling worship music.
The basic concept of this scripture immediately provides a platform of tension for anyone involved in church music. Music, as defined by our culture alone, has developed into a performance based, image consious, fame hungry monster. It’s where video views, Twitter followers, tours tickets and download sales are the only thing that really matters. Where, let’s face it, everyone involved in music enjoys the attention received from a great performance, and there we recognise the echos of Lucifers desire for adoration.
So this tension is very real and very present when you release an album. The natural human nature is to promote, advertise and sell ‘me’. The spiritural nature of my heart says the opposite – be humble, shy away and leave it to God. Or in other words, “not to us, but to your name be the glory”.
So here I find myself caught up right in the middle of this fight between being first or being last. I don’t have a real solution, though I’m sure this is a good subject to promote discussion. I would love to know how the Matt Redmans and Chris Tomlins of this age balance the celebrity nature of what they do, with a humble, worshipful heart, in only wanting to elevate God – what difficulties and temptations are dealt with when enjoying such recognition. Where does promoting self and promoting God start and finish? Do these two cross over?
Mike Rimmer tells a story of when he walked across a car park with Matt Redman, only to be surprised by the fact that not one person recognised him, waved or shouted out to him. He had somehow found a way to be invisible despite being a household name. A state of heart that in some way became manifested externally?
I know for myself, that something deep inside begins to feel hollow and empty every time, even for a moment, I’ve let the desire to be ‘first’ overcome. Everytime I’ve been more concerned with sales and marketing rather than love and relationship with Jesus, the role/activity that he has entrusted me with seems meaningless – because more than anything, Jesus just requires and desires our hearts. If he doesn’t have that, the rest is of little value.
So while we our required to do our best at all times – and yes this means, practising, rehearsing, marketing, sales, promotion and so on – never lose sight of the most important command given to us. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
Without love, we become just a clanging cymbal. An irratating noise. Don’t let your involvment in worship be defined by a status, role or recognition. Let your life be defined only by love for God. If we could be a people who breathed everyday, only to lift Jesus name, and to see his fame and glory in our land, rather than lifting ourselves, I’m sure we would see a nation changed.