I’m back in the States now, and grateful that God returned me safely to my family. They are too.
On the flight home, I had time to think about what most impacted me from my time in India. I have so many fond memories, so many moments when I was aware of God’s Spirit at work, so many reasons to be amazed that God allowed me to go on this trip.
One of the things I was aware of was how important the local church is to effectively communicating a theology of worship. The fact that these were pastors and not simply musicians wanting to learn more about “worship,” affected what I shared, the way I shared it, and the potential fruit. We weren’t simply covering principles of worship at a conference. We didn’t even talk much about music. We actually weren’t as focused on the methods of “worship” as learning how to magnify who God is and all He’s done for us in Christ, and helping others do the same. While the total number of people I addressed wasn’t overwhelming (a little over 300), most of them will be returning to their churches to teach and apply the material I taught. It thrills me to think that there’s great potential for residents of remote Indian villages learning how to glory in the one true God and the only Savior in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I also realized that in spite of our many differences (language, culture, background, musical preferences), people throughout the world are fundamentally very similar. We all want to merit favor before God, and think that our songs and activities can earn His acceptance. We can think worship begins with us, rather than with God’s nature and His gracious dealings with us. We don’t like to appear weak before others, especially in a corporate worship context. We can tend to disconnect the truths we’re singing from the problems we face in real life. We can think that worship is all about performing a certain musical activity and fail to see it as a passionate motivation to glorify Jesus Christ underlying all we do. In all these ways and more, people are alike the world over.
Most importantly, I saw again that we are all great sinners in need of a greater Savior. It was sobering to be confronted so consistently with evidences of idolatry in India. There are Hindu temples dotting the landscape in every locale, well-off and poor. The fact that we haven’t erected buildings to our idols in America doesn’t make them any less present. They may look like houses or cars, or may be hidden in our hearts, but they’re just as real. The second half of Jeremiah 50:38 accurately sums up the condition of both countries:
For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols.
In the midst of all the madness, I pray that we are among those who exalt the only true God, who glory in the cross of Christ, and who proclaim the excellencies of our Savior in the power of the Spirit with every breath.