Friday, April 30, 2010

Freedom and Boundaries in Worship

I was asked yesterday by an aspiring young worship leader if I lean more toward planned-out worship or Spirit-led worship. A few days before that, another young worship leader asked me if I feel creatively restricted in my position. I completely get where both of these guys were coming from, but I answered them both the same way: the questions set up a false dichotomy between freedom and boundaries.

Order is a friend of freedom. Chaos is a cesspool of slavery. If we are to be truly free, we must have boundaries. When every player agrees on the rules of a game, each is free to play his or her best without frustration. When no one agrees, everyone is hindered in their progress. In fact, the very existence of games is predicated upon rules. The Bible takes great pains to bring structure, order, and limits to our worship, while also encouraging us to be creative and exuberant in our expressions. Jesus is clear that true worshipers will do so in Spirit and in Truth. Paul demands orderliness and also says where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We are much more able to enjoy a drink that is restricted to its cup than one that has been freed from such limitations and is now liberated to a puddle on the floor. To be sure, even then, the liquid is simply obeying the limitations of space and gravity.

The real heart behind the questions these young men posed is, "Can I trust those who have the authority to set the boundaries for me?" Now that's a telling question, and one we should expect young men to be wrestling with. Not yet commissioned to positions influence, these young men must submit to the leadership under which they find themselves, and this can create cause for anxiety, to be sure. They've been gifted with certain visions and abilities and they fear they may never be fully reached if forcibly bound by another man's unsympathetic power.

I struggle with that fear myself, and therefore I'm not in a position to give much advice. But as we're asking these questions, let's not fall into the trap of believing that restrictions and structures are somehow unspiritual. The Bible won't let us go that route.

1 comment:

Lito said...

Brother Smith, Oh how I miss you. I decided I've been missing some time to read through some of my favorite blogs and came across your line on Chaos in slavery. I was curious if this was your original thought?

I hope you know what a blessing Tiffany and I thank God for allowing us to be near your family during our stay in Memphis. We look back and are so amused as we were a married couple slightly scared of what parenthood would bring. And watching your joy as you and Allison grew into a larger family only encouraged us in our move to follow suit. We count Kai as a huge blessing. I'm preparing to move back to Cali with graduation only a few days away. I'm looking forward to continuing in ministry and hope we'll be able to visit you guys sometime in the future. Love you guys.