In the last few years there have been a lot of controversies over large “worship” mega-churches. I am not going to debate a music style, just looking at biblical worship.
Worship is a lifestyle, not a music style. Musical worship is easy because it is void of a lot of elements of worship.
During the years I spent away from the church and worshiping the ways of the world, I never died to my selfish wants. I never sang to a beer, alcohol, or drugs. I may have sung to get the pleasures of them.
I did sing to women to win their hearts for sex. Trust me I enjoy singing. But I have learned that worship is more than a song!
Music and songs are powerful motivators, they make us feel things, but they aren’t worship in and of themselves. When I first returned to the church in the late 90s, Matt Redman had a powerful song about what worship really is, “More than a song, ” he sang.
The singer wanted to return to the “heart” of worship and it is all about God! Ironically the song would inspire the current “worship” genre of Christian music which has lasted for more than two decades.
Unfortunately, in many churches and believers’ lives, music has become the only way they “worship” God, yet not really living for Him. I can relate because I have been guilty of that myself. Before my accident, I was passionate about playing guitar and singing, not worshipping God.
But I misused my gifts for my own selfish desires and lost them due to my brain injury. I can no longer play guitar or any musical instruments, but I can still worship God. Although there are times I grieve what I’ve lost, I am grateful for all that I have gained and I praise God for that.
In Judaism, praise has different names, depending on the reason for singing.
- Halal- Pointing others to God.
- Tehillah- Corporate worship.
- Zamar-The joyful use of instruments.
- Yoday-To raise their hands to God in submission to God’s will.
- Shabach- Shout to the Lord for victory.
- Ruwa- Shout a battle cry.
These are only songs of praise, they also praised God through dance and prayer. Praising God through song is a verbal expression of love. However, “worship” is a strong verb, but it makes a weak adverb or adjective.
True worship is displayed by how we live, not by how we sing. Jesus confronted the Jewish Pharisees about this same principle because he knew their hearts weren’t God’s (Matthew 15:8).
Our worship is what makes us different from the world. True worship always requires change. You don’t fall in love with somebody and still pursue other people. You have to change your priorities.
When we worship God, our lives will be changed. We cannot keep on worshiping our pleasures or the things of this world. God wants more than our praise, He wants our hearts.
In Judaism the heart is more than just an organ, it is what makes us who we are in totality.
The heart of worship is not our words, it is how we think and what we do and believe every day. I recently ran into an old friend I used to sing in the choir with. She was shocked to learn that I haven’t sung in over a year. I told her that season has changed.
Although I no longer sing, I still worship God, because worship is more than a song!