Worship is not About the Music
You need to hear me correctly. I love music. I relate to music. I can truly be ushered into God’s presence through music. Music is a powerful vehicle to carry our praise and adoration heavenward – but it’s only one vehicle. The best vehicle for transmitting praise and adoration to God is a renewed heart. A renewed heart, a heart of passionate pursuit of God will find a way to express worship to God whatever the context, whatever the vehicle, whatever the musical style, whatever the setting.
One Sunday morning I went to the worship service longing for God to meet me. I was away from home and visiting a church I had never attended before. When the music leader began the singing, my heart sank. This was not at all what I had desired. “God,” I cried out, “I want to worship you so much but I just can’t with this . . . .”
Then God spoke gently and kindly, “Gareth, do you really want to worship me?”
What a question to ask! Of course, God, you know how much I want to worship you. What do you mean by that?
After a short, pregnant moment, he continued, “ . . . or do you just want to sing songs you like?”
And just like that I was faced with a dilemma of my own making. Was my heart’s desire really to worship God or just to sing those songs I loved to sing? Truthfully for me, singing songs I loved and easily related to did make it easier to draw close to God in a time of corporate or private worship. So it wasn’t merely a question of singing songs I didn’t like or had difficulty relating to, it was a question of priorities.
God continued by saying, “Because if you really want to worship me, you can! You can worship me anywhere, in any language, with any song, with anyone leading or with no song at all . . . if it is in your heart to do it.” I had fallen victim to the comfort of the worship ‘tradition’ I was used to. The format had become my key to worship, not God.
Worship is not about the music: it’s not about the style; it’s not about the format; it’s not about entertainment; it’s not about the language. Worship is about focusing your heart on him! It’s about desiring him to receive your praise!
Slowly, and I confess, somewhat grudgingly, I began to focus on God. The music became secondary, God became my primary focus. Even though the style and presentation was not my preferred choice, that moment of corporate worship became a blessing to me and, more importantly than that, became a blessing to God.
In our pursuit of the latest worship music or worship trend we forget that worship is not about being contemporary or traditional. Worship isn’t about my likes and wants. Worship isn’t about the latest anointed song leader or an age-old hymn. Worship isn’t about feeling good. Worship isn’t about me!
Those who have been given a gift of leading God’s people into worship must focus on that: guiding the worshippers into a place where they can eagerly extend their worship to God – where they can meet God with their sacrifice of praise. God is easy about music – any music. The latest style or the oldest relic really makes no difference to him. He’s only really interested in one thing – the heart of the worshipper.
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