As a worship minister, my primary responsibility is choosing songs for our congregation to sing each Sunday. And this is something I take rather seriously. Because music is powerful. The songs we sing stick with us for years to come, influencing what we believe about the world, life, humanity—and, yes, even God.
I don’t always feel like worshiping God. But worship is more than a feeling. Just ask Job.
“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1 ESV).
The Bible describes Job’s righteousness. But Satan takes notice.
Each summer, my entire family goes on vacation together. I’m talking about my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins. It’s a tradition of sorts. Now, maybe you don’t go on vacation with your extended family each year, but you have traditions. We all do. And if we’re honest with ourselves, traditions mean a whole bunch to us.
This week, I’m writing about the traditions of worship. Let me begin with a question: “What does traditional worship look like?” Does it involve hymnals? An organ? Choir robes? A grand piano? Electric guitar? Or does it involve any instruments at all? Now, it’s important to mention that I’m not referring to biblical traditions like communion and baptism. Those are God-ordained practices for His Church. Rather, my aim in this article is to discuss extra-biblical traditions like music style, dress code, decorations, and other “touchy” subjects. But how do these traditions influence our worship?
Nothing makes me feel farther from God than sin. The shame in my heart. The gunk in my mind. Something about sin causes me to play hide-and-seek with God. After all, His holiness and perfection seem all-too-scary for a darkened heart like mine to encounter.
That’s what sin does. It taints our worship by creating a barrier between us and God. And we need not look any further than the first book of the Bible to discover this truth.
In Genesis 2, Adam and Eve live in a perfect world. There’s no sin. There’s no death. There’s no cancer, divorce, or suffering. Everything is absolutely flawless. Because of this, there’s no shame. Verse 25 reads, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (ESV).
I recently searched the word “worship” on Twitter. Much to my disappointment, I had to scroll past eleven tweets before finding one that mentioned God. Most of the “worship” tweets focused on females attempting to seduce males. Others focused on shoes and socks. But the results are painfully obvious: people worship all kinds of idols. And it’s nothing new.
In the days of Isaiah (the prophet), idolatry is prevalent. The Jews eventually find themselves under the control of Assyria and Babylon as God teaches them obedience. The Babylonian Empire is later replaced by the Persian Empire under the leadership of Cyrus the Great.