We All Worship Differently

Self-Sufficiency vs. Holy Spirit Sufficiency in Worship
At its core, worship expresses reverence and adoration for God. For many, it is a deeply personal and spiritual experience that connects them with God. In our Christian faith, the concept of worship oscillates between two dynamics – self-sufficiency and Holy Spirit sufficiency. Let’s explore these two facets of worship and how they contrast and complement each other. But first, some definitions (Not Webster, but Burkeen:)

  • Worship- Christian worship is the response of God’s redeemed people to His self-revelation, exalting God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections, and wills in the power of the Holy Spirit.- Bob Kauflin. It’s not meant just for church service; it should be a lifestyle.
  • Self Sufficiency- The “do’s” of Christianity I need to do to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ—the flesh I have to fight to allow the spirit to take over. We know that God’s grace is sufficient, but we must pick up our cross daily to be reminded of it.
  • Holy Spirit Sufficiency- Being disciplined enough to get to know God through prayer, study of scripture, and worship to allow Him, the Spirit, to be.  
Self-Sufficiency in Worship
Self-sufficiency in worship can be described as relying on one's strength, abilities, or emotions to connect with God. This approach emphasizes personal efforts, such as learning scripture, practicing religious disciplines, and engaging in personal reflection and prayer. Spiritual disciplines, if you will.

In Romans 12:1-2 Paul tells the Roman church, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul is telling them that there are things they must do. God is not going to make you; Paul says, “present,” “be transformed,” and “renew your mind,” all things you must do in order for it to be good and acceptable and perfect. It’s an effort based on your self-sufficiency; you either do or don’t; it's up to you. Some forms of worship are the same; you must put forth an effort.

Characteristics of Self-Sufficiency:
  1. Personal Effort and Discipline: Self-sufficient worshipers often focus on their actions, like regular church attendance, prayer, and Bible study.
  2. Emotional Engagement: Worship is sometimes equated with the emotional response it evokes, leading to a focus on generating certain feelings or experiences.
  3. Intellectual Understanding: A deep understanding of theological concepts, doctrines, and application of scriptural knowledge is highly valued.
Pros and Cons:
  • Pros: It encourages personal growth, discipline, and a deep understanding of faith.
  • Cons: It can lead to a performance-based mindset, focusing more on human effort than divine grace.
  • It can lead to judging others based on what you do and know and the level of effort you put forth. (IE: I raise my hands during worship, so should everyone else, or I don’t raise my hands, and neither should anyone else) Emotion, or the lack of emotion, is not a gauge of holiness and righteousness.  
Holy Spirit Sufficiency in Worship
On the other hand, Holy Spirit sufficiency is about relying on the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit in worship. It recognizes that true worship transcends human ability and understanding.

Jesus tells the Apostles, “15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
When we walk with God through our disciplines and follow Jesus' commands, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. He will give us the ability to worship without abandon. But we must be in tune with Him through our daily disciplines and applications.

Characteristics of Holy Spirit Sufficiency:
  1. Spirit-Led Worship: People are open to being led by the Holy Spirit, even if it means deviating from planned or traditional formats. In other words, it might be different every time.  
  2. Dependence on God's Power: Recognizes that genuine connection with God is more about His presence and less about human efforts. Paul tells the Corinthians that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Our knowledge and understanding of God should bring us to love, not a big head.
  3. Expectancy for the Supernatural: There’s an anticipation of God working in miraculous and unexpected ways. Opening our heart gives God the room to move in our lives, and we are more open to see it.
Pros and Cons:

  • Pros: It fosters a deeper relationship with God, as worshipers are more attuned to His presence and guidance. “Feeling” His presence is a powerful experience and something to long for.
  • It can reveal your sins and allow for repentance, much like Isaiah in chapter 6.   
  • Cons: There's a risk of over-emphasizing emotional or spiritual experiences over sound doctrine and Biblical truth.
  • It can draw attention to yourself and away from God.
  • It can cause chaos in a worship service when it’s not done orderly.
Balancing the Two Approaches
The most profound worship experiences often occur when there's a balance between self-sufficiency and Holy Spirit sufficiency. This balance allows for worship grounded in sound doctrine and personal discipline yet open to the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Integrating Self-Sufficiency with Holy Spirit Sufficiency:
  1. Doctrine and Spirit: Embrace sound Biblical teachings while being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Discipline and Dependence: Maintain personal spiritual disciplines, recognizing that they are a means to an end, not the end itself.
  3. Emotion and Truth: Allow emotions to enrich worship but not dictate it, ensuring that truth is the foundation.

Worship is highly personal; we must never judge each other for the way we worship. There is no “one style fits all” kind of worship. Jesus went off to pray by himself, David danced in the streets, Isaiah fell to his face, Moses built a tabernacle, and Solomon built a temple. All were forms of worship done in their way.
While self-sufficiency and Holy Spirit sufficiency in worship are distinct, they are not mutually exclusive. A balanced approach can lead to a more well-rounded and fulfilling worship experience. It's about combining personal effort and spiritual openness, allowing believers to connect with God in a grounded and heavenly way. Worship, in its truest form, is a journey of heart and spirit, guided by personal devotion and divine presence.

I hope your journey to worship is a fulfilling one!

In love,
Pastor Jody

1 Comment

Therese - March 7th, 2024 at 7:09am

Thank you Pastor Jody, this is a beautiful piece! Thank you for showing us how to have a deeper, more fulfilling

relationship with God through worship. Also, thank you for revealing how the one body of the church can worship differently, but still in unity.