|Posted by Lauren Sparks on August 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM
|I have seen blogs, posts and articles this week about worship. Our entire service at church on Sunday was about worship. Even had conversations about it. So the topic is swirling around in my mind and the best way for me to process it is to write it out. So here are my musings on different kinds of worship:
The debate on worship styles is probably as old as corporate worship itself. My Papa was a minister of music in Baptist churches during most of my formative years – leading music, singing specials, and directing choirs. God has truly given him an amazing voice and now that we don’t live in the same town, I miss getting to hear him sing in church. One of my favorite memories of him singing was a solo he did while leading a revival. After he finished, a small boy sitting behind us whispered, “Wow! He sings just like God!” What a compliment.
When I started dating my husband, we looked up scripture together on worship, because he comes from a different denominational background. In the Church of Christ, the prevailing belief is that instruments should not be used in worship. This line of thinking comes primarily from the omission of any mention of instruments in the New Testament. Since there really is no direct mention of whether or not we should play instruments when we sing, Chuck and I came to the conclusion both acapella and accompanied singing were valid and biblical forms of worship. However, we decided to join a Church of Christ together because Chuck was not yet comfortable branching out from his roots. And as far as the doctrine of salvation was concerned, my new church home was pretty biblically sound. So for the first 5 years of our marriage, the worship services I attended were acapella. Sometimes it was beautiful. Sometimes not. The thing that really bothered me, though, was that I was aligning myself with a fellowship that believed my parents’ whole ministry (my mom played piano and sang as well) was wrong. Although they never said so, I’m sure it hurt their feelings.
The church we attend now is a far cry from that first one. Big on instruments and modern praise songs. And I love it. I recently heard an opinion from someone I know and from someone I don’t know (blog) stating that we are straying from the core of our faith if we don’t sing primarily hymns in church. Huh? Why is a song more “spiritual” if it was written 100 years ago as opposed to 3? I love and appreciate both. I do think there is something to be said for understanding the words you are singing. Some of the old hymn language is so archaic that its hard to follow – and therefore truly worship God. Especially for a new believer. When looking at a church, there are other things more important for me to consider. I’m much more concerned with whether the preaching is biblical than whether there is a spotlight on stage. I’m more curious about what the body is doing to reach the lost and underprivileged than how many instruments are being used. And I’m certainly interested in how Shelby is treated and accommodated. I’m personally so thankful that there are many choices when it comes to worship styles. If you have a preference, there is probably a church who will meet it. Awesome – just as long as we don’t start to feel like our preference is superior and more spiritual that someone else’s. As long as we are singing to Jesus, He is pleased.
Now, enough about music. In my opinion, the most important kind of worship happens outside the church building. It’s EVERYTHING else we do. Josh Riley says, “Worship is everything we think, everything we say, and everything we do, revealing that which we treasure and value most in life.” So every conscious moment, we are glorifying God, or glorifying ourselves or someone else. When I take a meal to a sick friend, I am worshipping God because I am doing something that would please Him. When I take the time to call a friend who is having a rough time instead of tackling my growing to-do list -I’m worshipping the Ultimate Comforter. When I choose to limit the TV programming I watch, movies I see and music I listen to because of it’s worldly content, I am putting God above myself – worship. Even setting my alarm (if it’s to get up and go to church) can be an act of worship. If it is showing God’s importance and authority in my life, it’s worship. But can we still worship when times are tough? Habakkuk 3:17-19 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength…” Right now Shelby is struggling through the second day in a row of bad seizure activity. And as hard as it is to see her suffering, I can praise God and exult in His goodness. I can thank Him for the strength He gives me to handle these days. I can pray for His intervention, because He is powerful enough to heal. God is good – all the time. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. I consider worship to be a Christian “practice”. Some days, Shelby’s problems – or something else – can send me into a pity party or a selfish spiral. But I just keep practicing, thankful for God’s forgiveness and striving to have more days that I am worshipping Him and less days I am worshipping myself. Worship Him however you feel led today. “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him wtih trumpet sound; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150