Here’s the deal: We, as fallen human beings, can make an idol out of anything. Unfortunately, when we gather together to worship, or even worship privately, if we don’t guard our hearts, we can find ourselves drifting from our worship of God, into worshiping the act or event of worship. This has to be the most bizarre and ironic ways that we slip into idolatry. Let me give you a few examples of how we can find ourselves worshiping worship instead of worshiping God Himself:
Style and Song Choices. If you can’t worship God except through your style and songs of choice, you may not actually be worshiping God. You may be worshiping the means of worship. This goes for all people. If you are more of the traditional side and refuse to embrace the singing of a new song (Psalm 33:3), or the use of instruments (Psalm 150) and only “worship” to hymns set to a piano and organ, you have fallen into idolatry. On the flip side, if you only prefer new songs, guitars, and drums, and when a hymn is played you totally check out, I would say the same for you. What are you worshiping? Song choices? Musical style?
The Use of or Lack of Technology. I think this is a silly thing to get bent out of shape about, but unfortunately, people do. Those that criticize the use of technology, such as reading lyrics from a screen instead of from a hymnal, are forgetting that it took technology to make the hymnal that you hold in your hands. I promise that those people would not want to give up the technology of air-conditioning when they gather together on Sundays in August. Likewise, people of emerging generations can feel completely lost or disengaged if they don’t have lyrics projected on a screen, or a sound system, etc. Technology is a tool to use to worship God, but it certainly isn’t necessary, and it isn’t something to demonize either. If you take a hard stance either way, I would say you are probably worshiping worship.
The Worship Experience. What I mean by this, when we are more captivated by the sights, sounds, and fuzzy feelings that come with a worship event, than by the One we’ve gathered to worship. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you speak with passion and excitement about all of the THINGS about the worship event, at the neglect of speaking about the greatness of the PERSON of the worship event is centered around, you might be guilty of worshiping worship.
Whenever someone points out potential idolatry, many people give push back on it. I would say that if your immediate response is to become defensive without considering if it’s possible to turn something into an idol, you are more than likely guilty of making it into an idol. But here’s the good news: If you recognize and repent of the sin, God WILL forgive you of it. Christ died for us because we are naturally idolatrous people. He died to free us from that bondage. He died so that we aren’t enslaved to worshiping our idols, but so that we can worship the One True God Almighty.