23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:23-24 (ESV)
I have been thinking and praying a lot about what worship is supposed to be. Singing is a part of Christian worship throughout the Bible. You clearly see figures throughout the Bible singing. David, perhaps one of the best known in the Psalms, organized worship leaders to sing praises in the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 16, 25). There is nothing wrong with expressing emotion in song to the Lord, but a distinct aspect of Christian worship throughout the Bible and the ages is that song exalts God and His truth, not you. I am concerned by the growing number of “worship” songs that if you simply print out and read the lyrics, mention more references to us as humans than to God.
Jesus clearly set the record straight in John 4 when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well about the right way to worship God. The Lord’s prerequisites are simple: in spirit and truth. God the Father is seeking worshipers who will worship Him with the right heart (spirit) and in truth (in accordance with His Word).
Just as we need to test what people teach because there are many false teachers, so we must also be on our guard about what people sing. Listen very closely to the theology taught through songs sung in churches across America. Truth, not feeling is the foundation of our relationship with and worship of Jesus Christ. Our standard for all matters of faith and living out that faith is the Word of God, not what “works” and “closes the back door on visitors.”
Those who lead others in worship (singing, preaching, teaching), have a responsibility not to perform but to exalt Jesus.
So in conclusion, next time you gather to worship Jesus with your church family, may Jesus be exalted in your heart as you worship in song, in listening and responding to God’s Word, in prayer and in obedience. Biblical Worship is far more than just singing, it is how you live.
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 (ESV)
Some other helpful resources to aid in thinking through this issue.