KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Those who serve in ministry have a tendency to “lose the awe and wonder of the very one we serve,” said Ron Owens at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary March 28.
He and his wife, Patricia, led students, staff and faculty in chapel through musical expressions of worship to God as sovereign Lord of eternity, creation and redemption.
Owens serves as an associate for spiritual awakening at the North American Mission Board and recently authored “Return to Worship.”
“Why is it that the more we know about God’s creation the less in awe we are of the Creator?” he asked in an appeal to study the glory of God in creation.
“When our people come to church on Sunday morning they have come to this sovereign God who sits on the throne who made all of this,” Owens reminded. Those who come “from the drudgery of defeated lives” should be led to worship the God who made them and cares for them, he said. Instead, they often “get a little emotional high and go out to live life in the same way they have before.”
But worship must continue beyond an acknowledgment of who God is, Owens said, by moving toward submission.
“I don’t care how good we sound. It doesn’t matter what we do outwardly,” Owens said, insisting on a further response of submitting to God’s leadership “when we leave here and live our life out there all week long.”
Christians must also abdicate their rights after submitting to God, Owens continued. Those who insist on retaining their rights often force churches to split and families to break up, he said. “My rights! Whose rights? God has bought me outright that his glory might be known.”
Drawing from the description of the prophet in Isaiah 6, Owens said, “The immediate response of a worshiping heart and one who has encountered God is, ‘Here am I am, send me.'”
Owens criticized a misplaced emphasis on celebration, stating, “We end up doing more celebrating than worship.” While the Psalms provide many examples of celebration, he warned, “We’ve gotten to the point that we just celebrate and the lost person can come into our meetings and leave feeling good about himself and want to come back because he’s been lifted by the music. I don’t believe a lost person can ever enjoy true worship.”
Instead, he said, corporate worship culminates in the surrendering of lives in service to the One who is worthy of worship. “When we get back to being a worshiping people I believe we’ll see the Holy Spirit doing things even in the middle of our worship services that we’ve not seen before.”
Too many ministers see themselves as helping God, Owens said, as if God needs a support system. “We need to get back to what we need to do and be. One who thinks he has worshiped, but is not willing to serve, has no worship to offer God that he will accept.”
Owens directed the chapel audience to the New Testament pattern of Romans 12:1 as the worshiper becomes the worship offering. “The offering God is looking for is you and me on the altar.”