How many of you have been admonished at the beginning of a worship service to set aside your worldly concerns and focus on the worship of God (or some close variant)? I’d like to propose that although there may be some truth to such an admonition, there is also a very real danger that may cause us to turn our hearts from God.
Yesterday, right before worship, I got a bit of bad news and felt like I wanted to vomit as we were driving to church. And it made me realize that to set aside such a concern (or, more realistically, to pretend to set it aside) as I entered worship would actually be contrary to faith. There is no godliness in refusing to rely on God, and it is not faith to hide the concerns of your heart from God. Randomly open your Bible somewhere within the book of Psalms, close your eyes, and point, and you’ll have a proof-text for what I’m claiming.
Instead of setting aside our “worldly concerns”, I would suggest what matters is what we do with them. Do we continue to think we can solve our problems on our own, focusing on lifting ourselves up out of our problems while in the worship of God? Or do we come to worship offering God not only our songs, our tithes, but also our problems, our fears, our vanities? Faith gives God everything, not just the stuff we think we’ve prettied up.