You know, the one in skinny jeans, designer hair, with the voice of a Nightingale.
Remember the famous bully party line; “sticks and stones will break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” It sounds nice, but any person knows this phrase is chalked full of deception. The truth is, words are like containers. They are filled to the brim with meaning, and they are profoundly forming. Words shape the way we see life. Words filled with praise can shape us for greatness in the same manner that negative and demeaning words filled with poison can deface our soul.
Over a series of blog posts here at the Worship Ministry Catalyst, I would like consider the way in which we use words, particularly related to the title of “Worship Leader.” These two simple words, when brought together, ignite a whole slew of cultural images in our minds; from images of a guy with swoopy bangs lit up with lights, to a man with a high tenor voice perched behind a guitar. We picture music, we see the stage, and our mind has culturally been shaped to make a caricature of the Worship Leader.
My question is what does the Bible want us to think of, picture, hear, and sense when we hear the word “Worship leader?”
Our words have filled us with profound expectations of our Worship Leaders, our Ministers, and our forefront Pastors. Like magicians, we silently expect them to be endowed with the gifts to help summon the presence of God. Music is their magic, style is their potion, liturgy their hallucinogen, and the band their cast and crew. Unfortunately, this impression comes not merely with “sticks and stones” but is an understanding that is deeply concerning and has caused great deformity in the church. It has led us to deemphasize Jesus!
I’ll take “Leitourgos” for ‘200’ Alex:
In Hebrews 8:2 the writer says this about Jesus; “we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister (λειτουργὸς-leitourgos) in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Jesus here is called a minister. In the Greek this is the word leitourgos. It is derived from leitos, “belonging to the people” érgon, “work.” From similar roots we get the word liturgy. This is what has led many to define liturgy as the “work of the people” (more on this in a moment). What is being stated here is that Jesus is the Worship Leader, the Pastor, the Minister, and the worker on behalf of the cosmos. It is him who has worked tirelessly and is working restfully on our behalf to bring many sons to glory.
Jesus here is called the High Priest. Therefore, let’s make it our goal in this post to shift our focus to Jesus as the sole Worship Leader over all in all, and in the following posts we’ll flesh out what this means for us.
The first time High Priest is used is in Genesis 14. “Abraham, the friend of God, entered into battle to rescue his nephew Lot, who had been captured by the army of Elam. On his return, Abraham was met by Melchizedek, King of Salem and priest of the Most High God. This man, whose name means the ‘king of righteousness,’ blessed Abraham and the Most High God who gave victory to Abraham. In return for this blessing, Abraham gave a tithe (10 percent) of all the spoils of war to Melchizedek. By this act, Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek’s high position as the priest of God.” Christ is thus called in Hebrews, “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek is not just any run of the mill priest like Aaron, Eli, or any other temple servant. Melchizedek was a king-priest, whereas Aaron was only a priest. Melchizedek stood alone, not having inherited his kingly priesthood nor transmitting it to successors—Aaron’s priesthood was inherited and transmitted over the centuries through many sons. Melchizedek also had no recorded ending. Typifying Christ, his priesthood is eternal whereas Aaron was replaced at death.
Therefore, Christ is supreme in his leadership in heavenly places. By his sacrifice all are made “perfect.” Christ is perfectly hagios (Holy and set apart by virtue of standing) and hosios (Holy in character and innate purity). He is ordained as priest apart from the Law given on Mount Sinai, he offered himself for our sins, and his sacrifice is perfect “once for all.” He lived his entire life on earth in order to serve in this role. His sufferings on earth acquainted him with our struggles on earth, his death and resurrection exalted him above any other priest and leader on earth, and now we can come “unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
My point? Well, first, I hope this spurs your curiosity in reading my next posts in this series, as I will build off the stated case above. Secondly and most importantly I want us to see that no human being is capable of performing the work of Worship in the way of Jesus. He is in a heavenly temple not made of human hands, and his work on our behalf is perfect and exceptional. What he is in his very being is a Worship Leader in the highest sense. This title is reserved only for Him. In placing our accent mark here, we’ll be shaped differently as Christians, we’ll define words more robustly and Biblically, and in our next post we’ll find that Jesus’ role is not only ontological (his being), it is practical (his work is doing something radical for us and in us).