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Fearful & Fearless

Thoughts from the Director of Music

Sunday afternoon seems to be my reflection time. I usually finish my planning for the next Sunday – hymns, anthems, responses, instrumental music, vocal solos, etc.  I try to think about each musical element and what it will contribute to our worship. I recently found the following article and thought it did a good job explaining approaches to God in worship. He asks the questions, “Is our approach fearful or fearless?”  Here is his article.

Fearful & Fearless: How To Approach God In Worship

By David Santistevan

When you approach God in worship, what is your posture?

Are you in awe of His glory, gazing in wonder from a distance? Or are you a “run into His arms” kind of worshiper?

Would you rather sing “How He Loves” or “Holy, Holy, Holy”?

When it comes to the worship of Almighty God, we need both of these tensions.

We need the friendship and the fear. We need the awestruck and the intimacy. We need the fearful and the fearless.

My Start with Worship

When I was young, the only problem is that I hated corporate worship. I used to just look around and watch how weird people looked when they worshiped.

  • I remember the lady who used to hop around and swing her arms.
  • I remember the flag waving lady who danced around the front.
  • I remember the deep bass man who could never sing in tune.
  • And the operatic soprano I could hear breaking windows across the room.

I just thought it was weird. A bunch of weird people all getting together and being overly emotional. “Get it together, people!”

But then something happened. I encountered the reality of Jesus. I came face to face with the glory of God. And when that happens you simply cannot be the same.

Tensions in Scripture

Worship then became a passion. It was something that I looked forward to. But I didn’t really know what was happening or how I was to approach God.

I want you to consider a couple Bible verses:

“Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11).

Also:

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! (Psalm 96 verses).

Here we see commands to fear God – to tremble before Him. Pure worship doesn’t happen without this awe, wonder, and respect.

But also look here:

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Not only are we to recognize His glory, we’re also to come running. We’ve been given commands to stand in awe but we’ve also been given access into His presence.

When God sees us approach Him, He no longer sees our sin. He sees the righteousness of His Son. We have access.

Two Ways to Approach God

Worship must hold both of these ideas in tension. When you worship God, you must:

  1. Come with Awe – Behold Him. Tremble in His presence. Come with bated breath, treading slowly upon holy ground.
  2. Come with Access – Run into the arms of your Father. You have been made right with God. He loves You.

If you emphasize the awe without the access, you’ll simply observe God from a distance. You won’t engage in worship and draw near.

If you emphasize the access without the awe, you won’t worship with understanding. Your offering will be flippant and self-centered, as if you deserve to stand in the Presence of Holiness.

Come with awe. Come with access. Know the miracle of corporate worship. You are welcomed into the Presence of Glory, Beauty, Holiness, Righteousness, Perfection, and Wonder.

Don’t take it lightly and don’t just think about it. Dive into the tension.

Question: Which side of worship do you tend to emphasize the most? The awe or the access? What would change if you had more balance? 


I hope you have been challenged to think about your approach to worship  I’d love to hear from you with your reactions.

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