From the outside looking in, meeting together once a week to sing a few songs looks pretty strange. It really shouldn’t be, we meet together with strangers and sing at sporting events about the United States, we join in song together at birthday parties, and we jump up and down at concerts. Still, many people find worship music in church to be strange and awkward. At least, this was true for me for most of my life. As a middle school-er in youth group during the mid-2000s, worship time consisted of lots of singing and hand motions… and I hated it!  But now, in hindsight, I recognize that I hated it because I viewed it just as an awkward part of our Sunday gathering… nothing more and nothing less.

 

So why do we sing on Sunday mornings?

 

Musical Worship is not Less than Sunday Morning

I wish I had time to consider the use of song throughout scripture and history. From the song-stories of the Old Testament, to the Psalms, to the hymns sung by Jesus, to the eternal chorus of heaven… we were made to be a singing people. Certainly worship is more than music and singing, but it is clear that a joyful noise ought to be a major portion of our worship.

Worship, specifically musical worship, is an integral part of a Sunday morning for good reason. The word ‘worship’ comes out of the word ‘worth’ and, to me, is ultimately defined as the response of the heart when the mind is rightly valuing God above all other things. God’s worth is infinite… He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent… He created all that is and nothing was made apart from Him… He loved us enough to die for us… our very scale of worth is based on God’s infinite worth because we can imagine nothing worth more. When we understand this fully and consider how God relates to us with love, the result can only be a heart of worship. We were made for this! Singing and musical worship can bring us so much joy because it is a beautiful expression in our purpose to give God glory.

Sunday morning is the opportunity to corporately express that response. When I felt awkward in middle school, it was because my head didn’t understand God’s worth and so my heart had no response. Now, I can find joy in worship from both my own response and the response of others. When we look around the congregation and see others also worshipping and responding to God’s greatness, we get a glimpse of heaven and get to experience God’s greatness in a way that is not otherwise possible.

Imagine your closest relationship, perhaps a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or a friend. You can get to know a lot about someone through one-on-one time together. You can enjoy many intricacies of their personality; how they smile, their style of humor. But now… imagine witnessing them help an elderly woman cross the street or playing with a small child or serving a meal to the poor. Adding the elderly woman or the child into your relationship does not detract… instead you get to see and appreciate more of that person than ever before!

The same is true for us with God. When I see a brother in Christ, who I know to be going through a difficult time, worshipping God with arms raised, I gain even more appreciation for God’s power in suffering. When I see a former atheist cry before the altar, I witness the redemptive power of Christ in a new way. Through others, and specifically through the worship of others, we see more of Christ than we could any other way. Don’t discount musical worship on Sunday morning! Musical worship in your life should not be anything less than a powerful, weekly expression and experience. Corporate worship is hugely advantageous in growing our relationship with Christ on Sunday morning… but it is also so much more.

 

Musical Worship is More than Sunday Morning

 

Musical worship is more than just singing. In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus quotes out of the Old Testament to teach that we can sing in vain, including in a Sunday morning church service, if our heart is not right. Yet, when our heart is right, Hebrews 13:15-16 teaches us that our praises are a pleasing sacrifice to God. How do we test for a right heart?

A few weeks ago, I was walking through the house at night, turning off all of the lights before going to bed when suddenly an intense pain shot up through my leg. After flipping on the lights and proclaiming, “who put that there!” to the guitar amp in the hallway, I crumpled to the ground to nurse my poor stubbed toe.

We’ve all been there. Few pains can rival a stubbed toe in the night. But consider for a moment… what would you have said? A loud grunt? A forbidden 4-letter word?

You might be surprised to find I didn’t curse… but to those who have known me for a while, that’s not surprising because I have never said a curse word. Not because I’m better than that, it just never became part of my vocabulary. So, when faced with the severe adversity of stubbed toe and broken nail, my mind doesn’t reach for those words. Still, my response is very telling of a different heart. Instead, I reached for blame-shifting, even when certainly nobody else in our house even owns a guitar amp, but me. In the split-second, subconscious workings of my mind… pride and denial of my ability to make mistakes came out.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” And so, when pain removes all filters, our mouth tells what we are full of. Have we followed the advice of Philippians 4:8-9 and filled ourselves with things that are pure or are we full of ourselves

Consider Christ on the cross. In a moment of pain that is shameful to even compare to my stubbed toe, Christ overflowed with scripture. Quoting out of Psalm 22, Jesus Cried, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?” He was so full of scripture that even his very cries of pain demonstrated the abundance of the Word in His heart.

Musical worship is one awesome way to fill ourselves up with things that are pure, lovely, and excellent. This prepares us for doing all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) beyond Sunday morning. Just as we might study the word so as to be prepared to give a reason for our hope when we are questioned (1 Peter 3:15), so we sing in worship to prepare our hearts for giving God praise in the midst of a storm. Musical worship, and any form of worship, must be more than Sunday morning if we want to have an abundance of Christ in our hearts.

 

The Rest of the Week

Musical worship is not less than Sunday morning, because Sunday morning is so important! But it is also so much more than Sunday morning because it is both the product of the week before and the producer of the week to come. Our filling through the week allows us to overflow in worship on Sunday and our worship on Sunday fills and prepares us to continue being filled through the rest of the week.

Spend this week meditating on how awe inspiring God is so that you can respond on Sunday with a true heart of worship. Saturate your heart with praises, thanksgiving, scripture, and prayers on Sunday and every other day of the week so that out of the abundance of your heart, you can lift of a song that is both pleasing to God and full of joy for you and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you feel like I did before, where Sunday morning worship is hard or awkward… dig into scripture and meditate on God’s worth. Set your mind on the things above and pray that your heart would respond in kind.

In truth, this article could be said of any form of worship. We more fully see the blessings from God and answers to prayer when we pray corporately and we ought to seek praying without ceasing to embrace God in our every step. We gain greater insights into the Word when studying together and we ought to build a personal relationship with God through personal meditation on the Word. We can accomplish great things for the poor when moving as a church body and we ought to be obedient in generosity to all those around us personally. But we were also made to sing praises, so let us sing praises together Sunday morning and let us sing praises day after day!

 

Psalm 96:1-9

 

1Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!

Sing to the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day.

Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth!

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