Paul Tripp explains the dangers of idolatry in a talk at a worship conference a few years ago, and I found it quite compelling. You can listen to the whole thing here.
He starts out with this phrase…”The danger of idolatry is never more present than in moments of supposed worship.”
Dang. Let that sink in a bit…
This made me think of times where I was really feeling blessed by our worship service, and made me wonder whether it was because I was truly glorying in God and his greatness or myself and what I had fabricated. The line is a narrow one. We put work and effort into our services, and when things come together it is so easy to think “I am amazing for being a part of this amazingness”.
Instead, in those moments we should be praising God for 1) equipping us to even have any gifts at all, 2) bringing us all together and allowing us to have any semblance of musical excellence, and 3) providing our amazing salvation and being the reason why we worship through song in the first place.
Paul Tripp reminds us of the story of Cain, and describes how his “worship” of God was not really God-centered but self-centered. This was evidenced by his reaction to God’s rebuke. It wasn’t repentance, but angry homicide. He went through actions that looked good enough on the outside, but God saw his heart and his fake religion. What was supposedly worship of God was in fact the exact opposite.
The last thing to ponder is this. Tripp emphasized a few times that you have a seeking heart, you can only seek two places, earth or above. We’re always looking for life, and the only satisfying place to find it is Jesus, not our ministry or how awesome we can be Sunday morning. All those other things let us down, so why keep going back to them?
In the end it is encouraging because we know we have an advocate with the Father who intercedes for us despite our shortcomings and idolatry, yet still demands the allegiance of our hearts. As worshipping teams, let’s be aware that the danger of idolatry is most present at times of supposed worship, and let’s guard our hearts, and each other’s, during those times.