I remember the first time I kissed Jan. It was 47 years ago. We drove from Multnomah School of the Bible (now known as Multnomah University) in Portland, Oregon to the Eagle Creek trailhead in the Columbia Gorge. I had to borrow a car to make the trip. After a long hike we returned to the parking lot. Just before starting the car, it happened. I can still remember that first kiss. I have been kissing Jan’s lips several times each day ever since. Kissing Jan is always special like it was the first time. As I recalled that first kiss, the Lord began to speak to me about worship.
Over the years, I have found myself critical of some forms of worship. Pick the judgment. I have done it. I have judged worship as out of date, too flashy, not sincere enough, too controlled, sloppy, corny or too professional with lights and smoke rising. You name it I found something I did not like about how people worshipped when my heart was not in a healthy alignment with the heart of God. Finally, God said to stop it. It was an intimate experience between Jesus and His bride, and it was none of my business. It would be akin to someone peering through the window of the car I borrowed 47 years ago and saying to me as I kissed Jan for the first time, “Dude, somebody needs to show you how to kiss that girl.”
What I did not understand in those times of judgment was this one fact, for God, every time He engages with someone in worship, no matter the style, method or skill level, for Him, it is always the first time. It is like the first time two people in love experience the first kiss. For God, worship is always a tender and passionate experience. It takes His breath away. It never becomes routine.
Maybe the next time we get together with others believers, we should listen for the breath of God being taken away instead of any words of judgment or criticism being offered.
For many of us who have been in the Church for a long time and think we know it all, it would be good to go back and rediscover the first blush of our passion for God. It can be lost. It can also be rediscovered. Those first attempts were a beautifully clumsy and exploratory kind of love so filled with passion we did not care if we did it right.
The Church can become predictable week in and week out meeting with the same people doing the same form of worship. Ministry came become an industry of continually promoting the product of self. Our most intimate relationships can become drained of feeling. When worship and life in the Spirit become void of innocence and tenderness, we lose something beautiful. Only the passion of first love has the power to interrupt predictability, self-promotion and the absence of the emotion of love and replace it with the newness of a young love.
The next time you gather to worship, ask God to help you taste the first kiss of worship once again. If you do, you will be so taken with the lover of your soul that nothing else taking place in the room will matter. That is what passionate worship is looks like to those who are in love with God.