In the first two posts on the “Something’s Happening Here” discussion, we looked at the fact that during gathered (in-person) worship in music,
1. We declare God’s worth, character, truths, and the Gospel to ourselves, one another and unbelieving attendees (visitors.)
2. We commune relationally with God in His Presence
Third, when we sing as the gathered church, we have an opportunity to re-orient/submit every area of our lives to the Truths of God’s Word, most specifically the Gospel.
This is part of the conversation that happens in God’s Presence when we are in gathered worship.
This is a result of the power of the Word of Christ as we meet in the Presence of Christ. (Provided our songs do allow the Word of Christ to dwell among us richly)
I can’t tell you the number of times the Spirit has reminded me of truth or convicted me of sin as I’m singing in worship to God. These definitely happen during the spoken message and liturgies, but when I am verbalizing Biblical truth, or genuinely singing a song of commitment or dedication, it tends to sink deeper into my heart and take root.
Perhaps this happens uniquely in song as we take time to focus on a theme for a few minutes. (Again, an argument for a diversity of themes in our song diet.) We ‘dwell’ on the word of Christ.
A phrase in a spoken message can pierce, but we can quickly let it pass, moving on to the next ‘truth nugget.’ The same can happen during a liturgical element (creed, confession, etc.)
I use the word ‘genuinely’ to mean just that – I am not seeking an emotional buzz, I am verbalizing (singing) from a sincere heart.
A friend of mine once shared this helpful riddle:
“Five birds sat on a branch, two decided to leave, how many remained?”
The answer is…. we don’t know – it’s one thing to “decide” something, another to follow through on it.
In light of the work of Christ, we know that there is no longer a sacrifice for atonement that needs to be made*. And Romans 12:1 tells us we are to offer our bodies “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper (reasonable, rational, logical) worship.” And further, Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name.”
So, a sacrifice for atonement is not what we bring.
But we are called to sacrifices of our verbal praise and lives lived as praise. Our lives – examined in the light of the truth we sing, convicted by the Spirit of God, in the presence of the people of God – re-oriented to the Truth of the Word.
This includes repentance, submission, commitment, and dedication. Rom 12:1-2; Ps 51; Ps 19:14; Ps 130; Ps 119.
A healthy diet of songs in church should include these types of songs. It’s been rightly pointed out that our worship songs should not merely be a string of “I do this…”, “I declare this….”, “I offer this…”, but to exclude these songs would be a mistake as well.
As mentioned before there is a unique connection between head and heart when we sing our worship. There is a unique sense of accountability in community when we verbalize a commitment to God. A genuine, verbalized commitment expressed in authentic community can hold more weight for us than a moment of conviction while listening to a powerful worship song.
Singing these things can reorient us, and we need to then follow that up with sincere prayer, and a renewed focus on time spent with the Lord in the Word for the transformation to firmly take root.
If our worship gatherings are led well, (provided we allow adequate time for silence, reflection, and verbal direction) and the music leader or pastor or “compére”/MC leads people well, these can be powerful times of transformation into Christ-likeness.
(and I’m preaching to myself here as well)
Gathered, in-person worship helps us to reorient and submit our lives to the Word of Christ.
Next time we’ll look at how Spiritual Warfare takes place in gathered musical worship.
“St. Augustine somewhere wrote that he who sings his prayer prays twice. But before this praising of God in song can be truly prayerful, the spirit of praise must run high in the soul. The song of the lips must first have been a song in the soul.”
*I find it interesting that many of the Old Testament sacrifices we completely dedicated/given over/consumed on the altar. I believe the Lord commanded this to represent to the people that not only is He worthy of our best (firstfruits, animals without defect), but also that our giving over our best (even to destruction) demonstrates that we trust that God will provide for us, even when our best is completely given over/used up/consecrated to Him.
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