As a worship leader for many years I tend to bang around this question from time to time. As I have stood and as I led I have seen what is going on. Some are engaging, but some are not. Their faces tell of their boredom, their faces tell of their disinterest. Their faces are telling, that and there non-singing mouths. Also Pastor’s notice when you are sleeping during a sermon as well, so there’s that. But I want to ask what does our offerings to God look like? Do we honor God in the sanctuary? Or do we feint at him with damnable praise? God is seeking worshipers who worship him in Spirit and in truth.
(A side note here, since writing this weeks ago I read a fantastic article from CHALLIES.COM about why some people do not sing and it is something for someone like me to always consider, and I do.) But there is another side and what I would want to add is that while those things are true and must be measured I wouldn’t ever want to make it about the service itself. I know this is challenging. Part of my point here is we will probably always find something about a service that doesn’t ring our bells. Worship is not about the service but about God himself. This doesn’t excuse poor practices up front, but I have learned that until I decide ahead of time to worship I will find any number of reasons to not engage. This is especially true for worship leaders when we are not the ones up on stage and even pastors when they are not speaking. I have to choose to engage even when I am not on stage directing, because it is about God and his glory and never me. So to continue…
God wants a certain type of worshiper. One that is both of the Spirit and in and about truth.
23. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (John 4)
In order to worship in Spirit we must be born again in order to have the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life and worship. But mere presence is not enough. The Sprint must also be directing the show. I can have the Spirit and grieve him or I can have the Spirit and let him lead my heart. If he is directing the show then my praise will be honorable to God.
To worship in truth is to have our relationship informed by the truth of his relation by his Spirit. It is both the content of faith and the truthfulness of the offering itself. So worshiping in Spirit and in truth are linked. The Spirit reveals the truth and the truth points us back to God while the Spirit bears witness to that truth. It is a helpful circle of direction and confirmation all for the purpose of deeper intimacy with God.
Now as I have already discussed that music is not worship in and of itself but it is a delivery system that God seems to appreciate. Hebrews speaks of singing supplanting the burnt offering system as worship. We see in Revelation that singing to God is a heavenly activity both figuratively and literally speaking. In other words how do we approach the Throne of God? We have gained boldness in our approach but we are still dealing with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords creator and director of the Universe.
This is just a friendly reminder but when we enter his courts, is thanksgiving in our hearts or are we folding our arms saying the whole singing to God thing is not really our cup of tea? Are the songs not your favorite? Is the way the worship leader conducts not what you are used to or to your liking? I don’t want to impose too much because worship to God is a personal and intimate thing. It is a way to express love to your maker and it should be taken seriously.
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13)
I don’t know that we really can comment on how somebody else offers to God, that is not really the point of this. But because God does have something to say about it I want to make sure we have a reminder to approach the lover of our souls often and how he deems appropriate. He is calling to us. He wants a relationship with us. Just like a lover might share appropriate and inappropriate ways to approach them God simple wants to be revered.
Think of this as a reminder in the same way a loving and concerned friend might prompt you to love your wife/husband a bit more because he values your relationship and he saw a need. A witness reminds you of your vows when time are tough and calls you back to the foundations of your love. A good friend shares with you the reality of your condition and this is that.
When you stand before the Lord to sing, is it because singing is or isn’t your thing? Is it because on this particular week you have experienced abundant life or not? Is it because you understand who God is and what he has done, that you simply want to give back? Or is it because it is worship time and you have put all that out of your mind? Should it really be about if the particular service felt worshipful enough? Or have we determined in our hearts that we are going to be a worshiper?
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12)
Not simply singing to God but offering ourselves to the work of Christ. We are to serve because we know in service we render honor to God. The purpose is always to worship though. Every Sunday, no-every day, we must decide to frame our hearts in a posture of thanks. We must decide to lift our hands because we understand who formed them and gives them life. We must be masters our our thoughts and bring them under the will of God. We must renew our minds and be prepared to express the gratitude that should be in our hearts to the maker. Worship is a willful turning off of ourselves and directing our attention to God. Offering worship to God is not hard. We must simply think about two things. Who God is. If that alone doesn’t do it for you then also think about what he has done. These two add up to endless worship, praise, gratitude, and allegiance. Let’s look at an example from the song book from the Bible:
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150)
If your redeemer lives then give him glory. If the restorer of your soul is real then give him his due worth. When the next Sunday comes around sing to your Lord because it is not about the music, or your week, or your thoughts on singing, or your particular level of felt needs. Do it in Spirit and in truth! I know that we would never damn God with faint praise but do we sometimes do the opposite? How about instead we simply show our love and praise him!