But Isn’t Singing Worship?
We live in a land of capitalism, and the Christian community thoroughly participates in it. The Christian consumer industry is alive and well. I’m not against all that, but I do want to point out that there are probably unintended consequences that have developed; One of those being the subtle equating of worship and music. The modern worship movement has enabled many Christians to make a career out of singing Jesus songs. People pay to experience and be led in worship by celebrity worship leaders (Case in point, as i write this I am hearing a radio promotion for an event called ‘Worship Night in America’). I can appreciate a great concert and gathering with large crowds to lift my voice in praise to God. But is there harm done in all this? I believe so. I see it as perpetuating a definition of worship as exclusively singing. The ripples of that places singing as the primary means of worship in the life of the believer, and places an unhealthy overemphasis on the importance of public space gathering (i.e. Sunday morning church service) as the ultimate Christian duty and experience.
As we concluded our preaching series on Hebrews this past Sunday, we looked at chapter 13. Hebrews 13:15-16 says, “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God”(NLT). The writer describes the sacrifices we bring to God as twofold-confessing his name with our lips, and the acts of our hands. I love the way Eugene Petersen paraphrases it in the message: “God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship-a different kind of “sacrifice”-that take place in the kitchen and workplace and on the streets”. This is a needed corrective for many of us. I believe we erroneously view worship through the lens of the old covenant instead of the new covenant. There is still a place for music and singing as worship. In fact, I think it is a discipline neglected by many in their daily lives. There is great power and freedom that can be unleashed in our lives by including worship music in our daily rhythm. But my point today is that we need to broaden our understanding of worship.
In the new covenant music is only one form of worship and sacrifice that we can bring before the Father. We need to be more intentional about offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1). What implications does this have for church leadership? It means we need to give consideration to what the other six days of the week include in the lives of our flock, and not measure their spirituality primarily by Sunday attendance. This is a great paradigm shift, but I believe that in light of Hebrews 13, it is the right one. This is a great invitation from our Heavenly Father; we can bring sacrifices before Him at any time and in any place!
And so, how’s your worship of the Father this week? May you embrace the greater opportunity the new covenant provides for you to worship God!