Integrity – An Absolute in Worship
By Brian Doerkson
This time out, I would like to look at the issue of integrity in our worship. If there ever was a time when people are looking for integrity in leaders, it’s now. It’s evident that people are expecting more integrity from political leaders and business leaders. They are expecting trustworthiness in all of life, and are not quite so willing to separate the private from the public. So what does this have to do with worship? In my opinion everything!! Integrity means everything to God and it means everything to us. Integrity simply means ‘wholeness, naturalness, the condition of being undivided, a consistency between private and public life.’
Think about that for a moment. Integrity brings freedom. God wants us to worship Him with integrity from where we live, to be ‘who we are’ and to not change our personas or the way we talk when we come before Him. A religious approach to worship means we have divided lives. One part is where we really live, the other part is our ‘best behaviour’, the part we save for ‘worship times’. Maybe that’s why Jesus said these powerful words to an outcast woman from Samaria.
‘It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God . . . . That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship.’ (John 4 The Message)
It was these words about integrity that inspired some of the words in the song ‘Come, now is the time’.
‘. . . .Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you before your God, Come. . . . ‘
God loves our worship when we are ourselves, and when we live our whole lives as lovers of God. And when it’s time to gather together with other believers to worship, we look for leaders with integrity that we can be ‘safe’ with. That’s why I have committed myself to the part of the Body of Christ that I have. I trust those who lead me because I see integrity in their lives. A genuine naturalness is one of the things I loved about John Wimber when I met him in the mid 80’s.
Safety and trustworthiness are two of the key reasons why people love people with integrity. Why does God love integrity in our worship? Actually it’s quite simple. God is truth. God is trustworthy. He is the definition of integrity. And He longs for us to become like Him. He wants our words to match our lives. He knows we were made for integrity. Integrity not only brings freedom but responsibility. When we lose sight of our responsibility, he reminds us. He gave this timeless warning through the prophet Amos.
Amos 5:21-24 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
The living Bible says it even more pointedly to those of us who express worship through singing and music.
Amos 5:23 Away with your hymns of praise–they are mere noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.
We need to face the truth that if we don’t have integrity God hates our worship! There is such protection in this truth. God doesn’t want us to come to Him as we think we should be, but as we are. And if what we are is not pleasing to Him, and not in line with His Word, then we cry out for mercy to change. That’s all He asks of us.
Lance Pittluck, senior pastor of the Anaheim Vineyard, said something very profound recently. ‘Gifting gets you into ministry – character keeps you there’. We can get attention from people through being gifted even in the church. In our culture singers have profound influence because they can make a beautiful sound with their vocals chords. They might be able to stay popular as singers without the character of integrity, but in God’s eyes and ministry, only integrity and the character that comes with it will make it last.
If God hates our worship when we don’t have integrity can you imagine how He feels when we worship Him with integrity? His heart must explode with delight. Every time we show a small kindness, every time we serve the poor, every time we are faithful to our families. And when we gather to sing as an overflow of a life of love, God’s heart must be filled with joy.
And when it comes down to it, the greatest joy in life is to bring joy to the One who made us.
via Vineyard Midwest Worship Leaders – Integrity – An Absolute in Worship.