Early in our marriage I gave my wife a terrific anniversary gift: a rain gauge. At least I thought it was a great gift. Susan, after all, is a farmer's daughter and keeps close watch on the weather. I envisioned her delight and nostalgia while tracking our backyard precipitation. I congratulated myself on my creativity.
Guess what? Susan was not impressed: "A rain gauge - for our anniversary?!" The rain gauge is now a family joke, a classic example of a gift enjoyed by the giver but not the receiver.
One word I hear a lot these days is authentic, as in "we seek authentic worship." Usually this means we're trying to create an experience that helps worshipers feel something. Nothing wrong with that, but if our focus is only on our experience, we may be giving God a rain gauge.
Are we offering in worship a gift we enjoy and figure God will like it?
A real gift, real worship, means knowing what's important to The Receiver. Real worship involves at least three questions:
1. Are we worshiping the real God? (Not ourselves or something we've created.)
2. Is the participation of the people real? (Not a charade or mere ritual.)
3. Is the response real? (After encountering God, do people serve him?)
It's nice if we enjoy the gift we offer God, but the ultimate question is: does he enjoy receiving
it? That's real worship.