Posted by Craig Borlase on 12 November 2013

There was a time - and it really wasn’t all that long ago - when pretty much all the singing we did at church was not called worship. Instead we called it praise.  

Why we first added worship to the descriptor - and why we eventually gave up talking about praise altogether - is another pickle for another day. But for today, the issue before us is simple: is it time to make another change to the language we use when describing this thing we do when we sing to, about and for God?

Why would we? Well, it could said that there’s a problem with the way we use the w-word. Scripture reminds us that worship is a high calling, and there are plenty of powerful illustrations throughout the Bible of acts of worship. The trouble is, not all of them involve singing. 

Take Abraham and the potentially-imminent death of his son, Isaac. What word did the former use when describing the sacrifice that was about the happen? You guessed it

Or what about Paul writing in Romans 12, telling us to  ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship’. When he’s urging people to really give themselves over to worship - to dedicate the very best that we have in the pursuit of it - do you really think he’s thinking of 24-hour sing-a-longs with awesome visuals? Not according to verse one, he’s not.

But what about Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman - the time where He explains that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks’ (John 4:23) Isn’t this precisely what he’s talking about, defining worship as so much more than religious ceremony, but instead as an expression of a deeply transformative relationship with God Himself?

In describing our God-songs as worship there’s a danger that we give them impression that Christians ought to be living in a perpetual state of musical abandon. We might lead less-thoughtful brothers and sisters to assume that Christianity is some kind of Truman Show/X Factor/Glee hybrid, where God eagerly appraises the authenticity, volume and hand gestures that accompany our sung worship.

There’s nothing wrong with singing. But singing’s not everything. And sometimes we creative types need to be reminded of the fact that not everybody sees things the way we do. Some times we need to remember that some people out there really don’t like music or singing. Does that make them a bad Christian?

Maybe if we stopped defining worship as that thing we do when we get up to lead people to unite with others and use our voices - as well as our hands - to express our wonder, love and devotion to God, people might find it easier to remember the essential calling that goes out to each and every one of us: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love others as we love ourselves. 

Then again, maybe you think this is nonsense. 

 

 

 

 

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