“But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed.” (Exodus 8:19 NLT)
Worship is a very serious issue, because worship gives visibility to who and what we are allowing to rule our hearts and lives.
As a Jesus follower worship isn’t only what we do when we’re gathered with our brothers and sisters in Christ at a gathering place on Sunday or whatever other times they might meet. Worship isn’t simply a posture of our body, it’s a posture of our heart and life.
Worship for a believer in Jesus is a lifestyle, a pattern of behavior that reflects the intent of a person’s heart. You can tell me all day long how much you love Jesus, but frankly, I don’t pay much attention to your words, unless and until they’re matched by the attitude of your heart, evidenced by how you conduct the affairs of your life; how you treat your spouse and kids; how you serve; your work ethic; how you invest your time and money; how you love.
R.C. Sproul wrote: “We should be careful about the words of the music we sing and ensure that those words communicate truth.” New Testament scholar Gordon Fee agreed when he said, “Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.” Those thoughts convey a consideration that applies not only to our corporate worship, but our individual worship as well.
A fundamental truth that guides my personal worship is two-fold. First, the Bible is my rule of faith. What does that mean? It essentially means what the Psalmist David said in Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” There is a very real sense in which our lives are an act of worship.
So pleasing words extend far beyond our times of personal and/or corporate worship or prayer, into how we speak to those in our spheres of influence. Are we “short” with our spouse or children? Use angry words in an encounter with a coworker or friend? Swear at the person who cuts us off on the freeway? In any circumstance of our day are we pulled from our devotion to and worship of our Savior?
But secondly, the words I sing must not only be in harmony with Scripture, but tune my heart to listen more closely to the Lord’s still, small voice. Music often gives rise to emotion in me. I enjoy singing and I sometimes find myself expecting certain songs to “speak” to me in expected ways. But there are times when I’m “flat,” unmoved in my spirit.
It’s in those times I appreciate the words of Elizabeth Elliot: “Worship is not an experience. Worship is an act, and this takes discipline. We are to worship in spirit and in truth. Never mind about the feelings. We are to worship in spite of them.”
Regrettably, there are those who prefer singing, to hearing the spoken Word. Perhaps that’s what Augustine was addressing when he wrote: “I am inclined — though I pronounce no irrevocable opinion on the subject — to approve of the use of singing in the church, so that by the delights of the ear the weaker minds may be stimulated to a devotional mood. Yet when it happens that I am more moved by the singing than by what is sung, I confess myself to have sinned wickedly, and then I would rather not have heard the singing.” (Augustine, Confessions, XXXIII.50)
Let’s continue looking at this subject in tomorrow’s post.
Blessings, Ed 😊