I LOVE worship music. We have CD’s playing in our home and car quite regularly and it’s always in the background during counseling sessions. During my 9 years as a Member of the Church of Christ, I recognized how unnecessary it is to have to worship God with musical accompaniment. I can worship God with a kazoo as a result – or with no music at all. Yet, I have attended church services where, because no musician showed up, the minister chose to forego that tradition.
At a church where I served as Assistant Pastor, a new worship leader addressed our Praise Team at their first practice: “Put down your instruments. We’re going to worship God!”
Some of them cried as a result of feeling so uncomfortable.
I will always remember a popular worship leader who, when speaking at a men’s retreat I attended, warned us not to confuse “the anointing” with decibel levels. “Loud music can raise goose-bumps that are frequently mistaken for the Holy Spirit’s presence.”
Too often have I heard worship leaders describe it as their responsibility to usher a congregation into God’s presence. Where do we get that notion? I’m sorry, but I need no help with that; His presence is within me, after all, musicas gospel para ouvir and I’m quite conscious of that fact (Romans 8:11). For that matter, where do we get the notion that we have to sit in rows as spectators, referring to a building as a “church” rather than the people no matter where we’re gathered?
But I digress.
The great Christian scholar Erasmus (1466-1536) said, “We have brought into our churches certain operatic and theatrical music; such a confused, disorderly chattering of some words as I hardly think was ever in any of the Grecian or Roman theatres. The church rings with the noise of trumpets, pipes, and dulcimers; and human voices strive to bear their part with them. Men run to church as to a theatre, to have their ears tickled. And for this end organ makers are hired with great salaries, and a company of boys, who waste all their time learning these whining tones.” (Erasmus, Commentary on I Cor. 14:19).
In the Hebrew language, the same root word is used for WORSHIP as is used for WORK; Avodah. Worship requires a humbling of self, a surrender of the self-will, a repentance of sin, and trust. It requires that we cultivate the presence of God. It ascribes to Him the supreme value of who He is and acknowledges His worthiness (worth-ship) in words, deeds, and posture. Worship is hard work. It’s much more than a sing-along. I’m reminded of a popular song that goes, “I’m sorry, Lord, for the things I’ve made it…”
Work (labor, enterprise, exertion) is always about serving. For the Follower of King Jesus, worship is in serving God. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).
Then there’s my personal favorite, 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,