What Came First – The Worship or the Heart of Worship?
We have likely all seen many short quips on the web relating to how our attitude or view of God impacts the way we worship. We have also likely seen other sayings that suggest that how we worship actually builds up and impacts how we view God. These two viewpoints are both innocent enough in their desire to encourage believers in worship.
It is a good thing to encourage believers in worship. And, it’s good to come up with new ways of doing this, including witty quips via Twitter (or any other social media platform or communication method.). However, It’s worth noting that these two thoughts do, in fact, offer conflicting views as to the relationship of the nature of our worship and our view of God. So, which is it? Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Or, in this case, the worship, or the heart of worship?
Short answer: Both! Not the answer you were expecting? Well, it’s all I’ve got for ya. But allow me to explain why I have come to this conclusion . . .
To worship God is to recognize, honor and proclaim who He is. First of all, let’s acknowledge that “worship” means a whole bunch of things, not just singing corporate worship songs in church. However, for the purposes of this article, when I refer to “worship” I am referring to singing songs in a corporate worship setting. Cool? Cool.
Ok, so worship is about God. That is the first and most important key. It isn’t about us. It isn’t about the church. It isn’t about the worship band or the worship leader. Worship, at its core, is always about God. So, how do we worship if we don’t know God? My theory is that you can’t. Not abundantly and passionately, at least.
Another way to put this is this: Do you believe the words you are singing? If so, then does your worship show that? It’s hard for me to sing about how great our God is with any real meaning if I think my God is small and weak. But knowing how great He truly is – that changes everything. I can’t simply mumble the words to these songs. I have to proclaim them!
In this way, how I view God absolutely impacts how I worship. I fully believe that I was a lost sinner, doomed to destruction apart from Christ. I believe I was saved, not by any works that I had done or any merit I had earned, by purely by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. I know this in my core. I believe this with everything within me. And I am grateful. I am swimming in oceans of grace and mercy, and because of this, I can’t help but praise my God with all I have. Think of it this way: If your mom or dad gave you an awesome present as a kid, did you just mumble “thanks” and act as though nothing ever happened? No! You were likely excited! You were likely thrilled! And you were likely grateful, perhaps even running and throwing your arms around your mom or dad.
Well, was that gift any more potent or cool or awesome than what God has done for us? Isn’t His gift of salvation way, way, way more incredible than a bike, doll or video game? Then why do we so often approach worship with such indifference? It’s not about false flair and hyped up fake enthusiasm. It’s about believing the words we’re singing, and letting that impact how we worship.
On the flip side, the songs we sing absolutely can and do influence how we view our Lord. It has been said by many that worship leaders and worship songwriters are some of the primary theologians of today, and I cannot disagree. Nothing sticks in the heart and mind quite like music, and through that medium we are communicating truths about who God is.
This is why we, as worship leaders and songwriters, need to be so careful in the songs we write and the songs we choose to bring before our churches. We need to ensure that what we’re singing in our churches are communicating Biblical truth as to who God is. And when we do this prayerfully, led by the Spirit, we can see people’s views of Jesus change in dramatic ways. Is someone in your church going through a hard time and perhaps doubting who God is in their life? Singing a song about God’s faithfulness and goodness can boost their faith.
Sure, it may not hit the first time, but singing Biblical songs about and to God on a regular basis can and will encourage those who need it. It’s not about the guitar riff or the drum beat, and it’s not even about how good the lead vocalist is (or isn’t). It’s about the truth we’re proclaiming. If it is indeed Biblical truth, then the Spirit can and will use it to build up His church.
So, we’ve now seen the “circle of life,” so to speak, that is the relationship of worship and our heart of worship – our view of God. Let’s keep the short Twitter buzzwords and catchphrases coming, but let’s not exclusively limit how worship impacts us and our view of God, and how our view of God is reflected in our worship. Instead, recognize the relationship, be thankful for it, and proceed with prayerful consideration as we continue to lead God’s people to the throne.