My pastor recently preached a sermon on worship. He said that the scriptures state that we are all to open our mouths and sing to the Lord.
As he spoke the words, I could feel the tension in the sanctuary beginning to thicken. Suddenly, attention had been called once again to the battle that our church, and many churches throughout the world, have been fighting for years now.
How to worship.
There are two camps: those who believe that the traditional way is best, and those who believe that a more contemporary way is best. And a lot of times the battle boils down to a will of generations– those who prefer the tried and true way, and those who want change.
The arguments of both sides are valid. The traditional camp believes that the hymns and songs of the faith that have been sung for years (in the cases of some hymns, literally hundreds of years) present the most reverent offer of worship to the Lord and connect the founders of the faith with the followers of today.
The contemporary camp believes that in order to draw in the lost and entertain worshipers, the songs should be new, raw, and most of the time accompanied with a band that consists of at least a guitar, keyboard, and drums.
But the real issue here is not traditional v. contemporary. The real issue is about the intentions in the hearts of the worshipers.
Worship isn’t about the how, but about the who.
Who is being glorified by the worship? Is it the organist? Is it the band? Is it the singers in the choir loft, on the stage, or in the pews? The correct answer is that only One should be glorified in our worship.
Reading carefully through the Psalms, it’s easy to see how David and the other authors glorified God with their voices and their instruments, not concerned about the comfort level of their fellow man; only concerned that God’s ears would be pleased with the sounds of his devoted faithful.
The scriptures say that if we do not praise Him, the rocks will. Verse 12 of Psalm 96 says that the trees will praise his name. We can be certain that the rocks, seas, mountains, hills and trees don’t care about what instruments are being used or whether the tempo of the song is too fast or too slow.
When we begin to fuss and argue over style of worship we are forgetting the true meaning of the word.
When we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, worship is a time for us to pour our hearts out to God in gratitude for his mercies and grace through the sacrifice of His son.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
When we think about just how amazing God’s mercy is and how it has changed our lives and adjust the attitude of our hearts, the worship will pour out. No matter the format, arms raised or folded, tempo fast or slow, words in a hymnal or on a screen, God will be glorified.
And that’s all that matters.
Personally, I find amazing worship in all types of music within the church tradition. There is no song more beautiful to my mind than How Great Thou Art. And when I imagine what it will be like to sit at the throne of God and sing of His wondrous love, no song is more powerful to me than You Are Holy (Isaiah 6).
Share with me: What’s your favorite worship song or hymn and why?