Po-tay-toe. Po-tah-toh. Worship. Music.
I often hear the terms “worship” and “music” used interchangeably. It’s easy to make that mistake. We often think of the music time as “worship” and the sermon time as something else entirely.
The worst time I ever heard it interchanged was as follows: the band finished the music set and the pastor came up and said, “Wasn’t that worship awesome?” He then went on to praise the sweet guitar riffs and drum patterns. It seemed like encouragement but I found it misleading that the pastor was blurring the lines between the excellence of music and worship of God.
If we aren’t on guard, we can be guilty of the same error.
I believe God has given me the gift of musical talent to edify his church. However, as sneaky sins often slither, a few weeks ago I found myself placing music above the heart of worship. I think that it came from a good place: I desired for our corporate worship to appeal to people of all ethnicities. I wanted a musical kaleidoscope reminiscent of what I imagine Revelation depicts as people from all nations and tribes and tongues praise their worthy Lamb and Savior Jesus.
“Hold your horses,” God told me. “Bring to Sunday only what you bring me in your alone time.” There are a few songs that I sing when no one is around, songs that reflect the state of my heart. These aren’t always the most hip tunes, but they come from the very center of my being, where the Spirit is fused with my spirit.
It was as easy as that. The plans I had were brought low by a God who values not the aesthetics of sound waves, but the posture of the human heart, transformed by eternal love. I was tempted to be crushed by the weight of guilt but I felt my heavenly Father lovingly usher me into an intimate time with him. “Abide in me,” He whispered to me. “In me you are found.”
Music is just a means of expressing worship. It is a wonderful one, but it is still just a means. Worship is a deeper posture that forces us to ask ourselves how much of our hearts and lives are surrendered to God. Abiding, or simply spending time with God, will result in the fruit of worship without the anxiety to perform. When we quietly sit with our Heavenly Father he grants to us his very life.
My prayer is that we learn to discern between such words as “music” and “worship,” in order that we become true worshippers from our heart’s innermost expression.