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It's All About God
Brett Anderson ©2003

"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," He said to them, "My house will be called a house of prayer," but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'" [Matthew 21:12-13]

I have often wondered how this scene would be acted out if Jesus was walking the streets today and my gut feel has been that Jesus would quite possibly have the same kind of reaction to Christian bookshops. The name of Jesus being used to sell erasers, rulers, mugs, t-shirts and cds.

Now the counter argument can be that Jesus' name is being uplifted and celebrated by having it on those various items and in some cases that may be true - I can never accurately judge someone elses motives and intentions. But when you look at some of the stuff that these places sell (and how often they are SO much more expensive than other shops where you might buy similar stuff) you really have to pose the questions.

Then the other day I was online and saw this link to the Praise awards - some kind of American award show I guess to say which has been the best worship song and group and album of 2003. And right or wrong, it just broke my heart. What is the chance that the focus of that award show is on God when you are honouring people and bands and musicians for their excellence?

Another pet hate of mine that is linked to that is the whole sale of worship music to churches (you have to buy the licence to legally play songs and show overheads in meetings) and particularly the person who wrote the song's name being on the overhead for everyone to see (I really cannot see any purpose for that except giving recognition to the writer and if the song is written to God then why do that?)

[Hmm I just realised a possible counter to my own argument is that in the book of Psalms I guess you get to see who wrote a lot of them and so maybe a precedent has been set from long ago, but then again I don't know whether it was the guys writing it that put the name on or people later so I stand by my feelings of unease.]

One of my heroes is a guy called Keith Green who the book 'No Compromise' is the story about and I would encourage everyone to read that - have been meaning to reread it for a while - but this is an area he fought against and struggled big time with. He wanted His music to be real and to glorify God and to be available to everyone (I think at least one of his albums he gave away for free to this end) and was constantly broken and tormented when people focused on him and his playing or lyrics rather than on God at his concerts and would often crawl under the piano and just cry out to God during a live show.

I interviewed Matt Redman (one of the most famous worship writers/leaders today I would imagine) on Christian radio once and I met him again when I was involved with Soul Survivor in Holland and he is one of the most humble people I have encountered. It was very hard in the interview to get him to talk about himself at all and he constantly wanted the focus to be on God. To that end I think he wrote the song 'heart of worship' which was aimed at losing all the fireworks and shows and dazzle and just returning to God with empty hearts - "it's all about you Jesus"

YET 'The Heart of Worship' has become 'that Matt Redman song' and when people mention the title or it starts to play I'm sure a lot of people instantly think 'Matt Redman' rather than 'God' - is that his fault? I don't think so. But an industry (and big business) that has said let's make celebrities of worship leaders (for worship to increase or people's pockets to get fuller? back to the temple courts of Jesus day?) is to blame and for the most part I think we as the church have bought into that.

I LONG for the day an awesomely skilled worship leader and song writer forbids people to have his/her name attached to the song, so that the glory will go fully to God and there will be no temptation for people to attach the praise to a man or woman who are obediently using the gifts God has given them. Or a church gets together and records a worship album of exceptional quality which they then distribute freely to people in the neighborhood around them.

Why should only the rich churches that can afford licence fees have access to the latest worship songs?

Why should worship cds (that probably cost close to 5 bucks to make) cost the same as any other cd on the market?

Why do the writers and musicians who create awesome worship songs need their names attached to the song every time it plays or is sung in church?

Why make celebrities out of worship leaders and introduce competition to the area of worship that is meant to be all about lifting GOD high and focusing on Him.

On this one Vineyard tape I have Matt Redman's pastor Mike Piliavachi has this to say to intro the one song:

"The heart of worship is and always has been blessing Him
Coming to intimacy with Him
Giving to Him
He is the centre of worship
And how dare we ever make ourselves the centre of worship.

Worship isn't to please me
It's to please Jesus.
Worship is for Jesus, it's to Jesus and it's about Jesus."

As Christians we have to learn to stop taking our lead from the world and I really believe this is an area where we need to do some confessing and repenting and heading in a new direction.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." [Colossians 3:23-24]