by Adam Snow
Worship Unites Us:
There is something about music that affects all of us. God put something in our hearts that makes us respond specifically to music. We may have different tastes or preferences for a certain musical style, but all of us have had an experience where a tune caught our ear and we were moved emotionally, or heard a rhythm and started to dance, or heard a song from time past and were instantly transported to a memory.
God made us musical creatures. Scripture gives us several hints on why we sing. Though there are many, one of the most meaningful ways that God uses musical worship is to unite us.
I believe 3 things about worship:
- Worship unites us individually by engaging our whole being
- Worship unites us corporately through a common experience
- Worship unites us with the world because of our shared purpose
Worship Unites us Individually:
1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
David is raw with emotion. His soul thirsts. His flesh faints. He feels like he is in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Instead of focusing on his problems, he turns to song. He sings his sorrow to the Lord. When he comes to the Lord, he is reminded of how great his God is. He is reminded about the truth of God; that He is powerful, glorious, and that His steadfast love is better than anything else in life. David must respond with praise! Even though he doesn’t feel joyful, he is moved to respond by singing to a God who loves him.
When we sing to God, it can provide an opportunity to be “united” personally. In singing, we get to combine our thoughts of God (lyrics), our feelings about Him (melodies), with our will and actions (voice and body). The greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). Music provides an excellent opportunity for this.
“In singing, we get to combine our thoughts of God (lyrics), our feelings about Him (melodies), with our will and actions (voice and body).”
For David, it was his connection to his emotions that led him to respond to God through song, but it can also go the other way. When you feel emotionally distant from God, let the truth of God captured in the lyrics draw you in. Maybe you got in an argument with your spouse or your kids on the way to church or are overwhelmed by some stress at work. Maybe you lost a loved one and are emotionally empty. Maybe you’re just having an off day.
I invite you to contemplate the words we sing and reflect on them personally. When we sing “Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”, take a moment to consider the truth expressed here. I am a debtor, and I was dead. But there is One who paid my debt by taking on the full weight of my sins and dying on a cross. More than that, He has defeated death and has called me to live with Him forever! Like David, we can behold His power, glory, and His steadfast love that is better than life and be moved to sing.
Worship Unites us Corporately
When we sing together on Sunday Mornings, it is one of the few times we are all “doing the same thing” during the service. When the Word is preached, one preaches, and the others hear. During communion, the elders serve, and we receive. When we sing together in worship, we are united in one voice to God. Though some of us may be using microphones and have instruments, we are all singing to God on the throne.
God is not our only audience however. Tolivar did an excellent job this last sermon speaking of how we can encourage each other through worship. The Psalms, which were written to be sung, are filled with exhortations to “Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” (Ps 105:2). God is the primary audience of worship, but the church is the secondary audience. When you feel disconnected from God, let your heart be moved by seeing your brothers and sisters sing to God.
Worship Unites us with the World
All people have been made in the image of God, including those outside of the church. They may not know God, but they have also been made as musical creatures. When we sing worship music, we can uniquely express the truth about God to the unbelieving world in a “language” that they understand. When I was new to the faith, much of the truth about God I first learned through song. When we express our joy and hope in music, others can see the kind of God we worship in the satisfaction that He gives His people.
More than that, music unites us to God’s plan for all of creation. When Jesus came into Jerusalem before he would be crucified and was told by the Pharisees to stop the crowds from worshiping Him, he replied that “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). All of creation was made for and exists to reflect the glory of God. When we raise our voice in praise to our God, we join with all of creation in a Great Song that has been sung from the dawn of time and will ring out through all eternity. As we come together on Sunday mornings, let this be our song:
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times