The following is an excerpt from a project I’m currently working on, and it seems fitting for a Sunday morning.
What is it with Christians and all that singing?
Most churches have a component of singing which they call worship. In fact, nation-wide radio networks and TV channels dedicate themselves to 24×7 worship music. Today we’ll think about worship and figure out what place it has in the life of a Jesus follower.
First, let’s talk about the music, since most church people mean the songs we sing in church when they say worship.
Why do we sing in church? This singing does a number of things. Some songs we sing in church, serve to remind us of who we are in Christ. Others bring praise to Jesus for who He is and for the wonderful things He has done. This second group falls into the category of Praise and Thanksgiving.
A great songwriter from the past, David the shepherd king, wrote long ago,
Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. – Psalm 100:4
He also said this about praise in another of his songs,
Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. – Psalm 22:3
Or as the old King James version declares,
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. – Psalm 22:3 KJV
These verses teach us that our praise brings us into the presence of the Lord. This is why we talked about beginning our times of prayer with praise and thanksgiving. When we honor the Lord with our words of praise, it prepares our hearts to receive from His hand of blessing.
This is why we take the time to sing before the preaching of the Word in a church setting. If God comes and inhabits, or sits enthroned in our praise, and the psalmist’s metaphor teaches us, our hearts will be ready to receive the word like good seed in a garden.
But can we rightly call this worship?
Yes and no.
Much of what wears the worship label, consists more of praise or encouragement, and yet it can be part of worship.
Some would make the distinction that music becomes worship when its focus is more intimate. That worship is the beyond praise when we stop talking about Jesus and start singing directly to Him.
Jesus said, to a woman He met in Samaria,
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. – John 4:23
In her song Dove’s Eyes, Misty Edwards, a worship leader out of the House of Prayer in Kansas City, wrote,
I don’t want to talk to You
like You’re not in the room,
I want to look right at You,
I want to sing right to You.
This captures the heart of worship. Worship does not talk about God to others. When we worship God, we set aside all the distractions of life, and focus our affections, all our attention on Him.
The Old Testament model of worship gives us a picture of what worship is supposed to look like. The sacrificial system of putting animals on the altar and sacrificing them to the Lord represents the laying down of our lives and giving ourselves into the service of the Lord.
So, worship in one sense could involve music and singing, and prayer and time spent with the Lord. But in the broader sense of the word, it’s about laying your life down before the Lord and saying I’m all in. I consider myself dead to my agenda and fully at your disposal.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1
One of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible of worship comes in the last days of Jesus’ life. He sat at a dinner table in the house of some good friends, and in came a woman with a pretty bad reputation. She carried an alabaster box of ointment, worth a year’s wages at the time. She poured the ointment on His head, and weeping, she began to wash His feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. Anointing His feet with the ointment, kissing His feet, and generally making quite a scene.
The others at the dinner, His disciples and His host included were upset by this display, but Jesus received it and honored this woman as the only one to treat Him as was fitting.
This paints for us a beautiful picture of worship. This woman, who had been forgiving much, poured out the most precious thing she had at the feet of Jesus–her life in effect. When she walked away from this encounter with Jesus, He smelled of the perfume of her life, and she smelled like Jesus. In reality, a couple days later, as He hung on the cross, somewhere, lingering in the air, amid the smells of blood, the sweat, and the tears, would have been the fragrance of that ointment.
True worship marks us and moves the Lord.
Here’s Misty Edwards singing “Dove’s Eyes.”
Thanks for coming by
Worship Him today,