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Sat Jun 15, 2013
by Cam Huxford IV
Gentlemen, We Are Not Mediators
Anyone who’s been a worship leader at a church has heard, at some point, “Your job is to bring the congregation into the presence of God!” Or maybe, “Take them into the throne room!” Grab the latest magazine on sacred music and you’ll find the idea of worship leader as presence-usher littering the pages. But where does this idea come from? Is it even biblical?
Presence isn't a place
The word "presence" appears in Scripture 173 times. About half of those are referring to the physical place where God dwells. This was particularly true in the Old Testament, where God shows up in places like the tabernacle or the temple.
The New Testament teaches us that in Christ, God has wonderfully chosen to be with us. Emmanuel came (Matthew 1:23) and ever since, his presence is no longer made manifest by a specific location (John 4:23-24, Acts 17:24-25) or mere mortal (Hebrews 4:14-16; 9:23), but God’s presence on earth is in the life of every believer through his Holy Spirit.
Jesus, the mediator
Because Christ is perfect, and by his blood has reconciled us to God (2 Corinthians 5:18), he can appear before a holy and righteous God on our behalf. He is the mediator, not us.
You want to bring your congregation before the throne of God? Great. Show them the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and by faith, the Spirit will take them there. The Holy Spirit is the conduit through whom we experience God’s presence, and Christ is the place whereby we are made most aware of his presence. In his book, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, Bob Kauflin says it this way: “Christ is how and where we meet with God”.
But in heaven, we'll sing in-tune
God is present in a special way when we sing together—we are in a sense practicing for heaven, and nowhere else can we collectively see and hear one another worship Christ at the same time. But God’s presence is not a place we go. It is a Spirit we welcome.
Sometimes when we sing, the power of music and truth combined can dig deeply into our hearts to make us realize that God is with us, but it wasn’t the singing that made him appear. He was there all along.
Everywhere we go, the Spirit of the living God is with us—leading us, guiding us, and allowing us to be in the presence of God without being blown to smithereens.
When it comes down to it, if music could take us into God's presence, "God would have sent us a musician rather than a saviour." –Vaughan Roberts