As followers of Christ, we’re called to make disciples. But I wonder how often we view our worship through the lens of discipleship. How does our worship of God impact those around us? More specifically, what kind of influence does our worship have on nonbelievers?
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are in Philippi. After meeting a godly woman named Lydia, they come across a slave girl who is possessed by an evil spirit. Because of this, the girl obsessively shouts around Paul and his companions. The Bible says that Paul, being greatly annoyed, rebukes the evil spirit in the name of Jesus. Therefore, the slave girl is freed. However, the masters of this slave girl are angry with Paul and Silas because the girl’s ability had provided her owners with income. As a result, Paul and Silas are dragged into the marketplace, beaten with rods, and placed securely within the inner prison. In fact, the Bible even describes their feet being fastened in stocks (see v. 11-24).
That’s when Paul and Silas begin to worship through song.
“By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” (Ps. 137:1-6 ESV).
Unwilling to part from sin, God’s people find themselves in Babylonian captivity. Jerusalem is destroyed. The temple lay in ruins. Zion seems to mimic the tears of God’s people. The representation of God’s presence on earth looks awfully hopeless.
That’s the scene depicted in Psalm 137:1 as God’s people weep along the foreign waters. But the story doesn’t end there. The psalmist soon takes readers down the familiar road of worship music. Not any particular style of worship music. Just the heart behind it. And that’s where I want to focus my attention this week.