During a Sabbath worship service in a cathedral in China a deaconess slapped my hand for drinking from my water bottle. I knew no Mandarin but her body language gave me the message she didn’t approve. I assume that meeting my physical needs while I was supposed to be worshipping God in what she saw as a holy place was not acceptable.
On the same Sabbath in the same city I heard the most beautiful Chinese Christian worship song, with an eerie harmony that left me in awe. This group worshipped in a high-rise building and were all drinking water when they wanted to. At an Adventist church in the US, people of different cultures and ages (mainly under 30) worshipped with high energy: a band, clapping and dancing. Their focus: a God of love, power, understanding and grandeur. They felt comfortable giving their all in musical praise to God.
. . . worship is ultimately not about me but God.
In the South Pacific I have experienced many different forms of corporate worship: harmonic singing, praise bands, dramatisation of a Bible story, powerful testimonies, insightful biblical preaching as well as some elements and styles that didn’t do much for me.
However, an article by Jon Paulien, in Ministry, the Adventist magazine for clergy, reminded me that worship is ultimately not about me but God.
In Revelation, humans worship God because of who He is and what He does. In Revelation 4:9-11, the elders and living creatures fall down before God because He is Creator. In Revelation 5:8-10 the elders fall down singing before the Lamb because He redeemed people of every tribe. In Revelation 11:16,17 the elders fall down before Jesus because He has taken His power to reign.
Any disciple of Jesus worships Him. Worship is focused on Jesus. The act of worship recalls who God is and what He does. If we do those things we really worship no matter the format or style.