This past weekend I went to visit Hillsong Melbourne with Jeanille - she wanted to get a bit of a change while we both didn't have any service requirements and I had never been before. Either way, so we visited the church and heard a great message from Joseph Prince about tithing and communion. Hillsong have, as a whole church movement, been in the media in a negative or critical light recently during their conference. This is due to the presence of Justin Bieber at the conference and because of the actions of A Current Affair.
On the Sunday, Brian Houston announced the millions of dollars that people had generously given to help contribute to more projects for Hillsong. He finished this off by praising God and giving him all the glory for the generosity of people and saying that there are many people out in the world who don't understand why people would give so much and so generously. As Brian Houston stated, people cannot understand because things of the Spirit can only be understood by the Spirit. In other words this is Christianese for the idea that when God sets out to do something, only through God's help can other people understand why such things happen.
This lead me to reflect briefly on why Hillsong has become such a large movement with plenty of money to spend. This being the main reason that people and media like A Current Affair attack Hillsong so readily. You know what I believe? I believe it's linked to the fact that the number one thing that Hillsong as a church have existed for and been known for is praise and worship music.
People were made for praise and worship. Sometimes we give this praise and worship to other things like wealth, fame, partners, family, work etc. or allow it to be dictated by circumstances. Sometimes we do both: see how Nick Kyrgios has been blasted when he failed compared to how he was worshipped when he was winning big (same with other big name athletes). The one being that we were truly made to worship however is God himself. And by putting worship to God first there are rewards that come from that.
This idea was followed up in the message that Joseph Prince shared on Jesus being the High Priest who stands in for all the people and of the order of Melchizedek forever (read more on that in Genesis 14 and Hebrews 5 to 7). He pointed out that much like how Melchizedek gave a tithe and held communion with Abraham after victory, so too tithes and communion come after the victory for us. Jesus has the victory so tithing and communion (Christian rites in a sense) are not things we do to look better before God but they are acts of worship. You don't give your money to God to be blessed but because of the attitude you give with God blesses that act of worship back.
In John 4:24 when Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman he points out this: "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." My encouragement to any Christian reading this is to become someone (and I'm writing this for myself also) who worships God first and foremost. To anyone who is not a Christian and may be confused by what I have written or who feels challenged, I ask you to look into the Bible, find out who Jesus is for yourself and realise that all that worship and praise you have given to material things or other people only belongs to one person: God himself incarnate - Jesus Christ!