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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Worship Is in the Heart

I just read an article saying that people were no longer singing in churches. The person who wrote the article had an accurate observation but presented his reasons why people have stopped singing based on his own personal beliefs rather than true observations. Many or all of his presuppositions may be true. My only contention is that he has no real evidence that they are.

Comments from those who had read this article followed his observation. The comments reflected the belief of people who claim that certain songs are not worshipful. They decry the destruction of worship because it is not the worship of the past. I wonder if this happens in every generation.

A teenage boy complained to his father that most of the church hymns were boring to him. They were too far behind the times, with tiresome tunes and meaningless words. The father put an end to the complaining by saying, “If you think you can write better hymns, then why don’t you?’ The boy went to his room and wrote
his first hymn. The year was 1690 and the teenager was Isaac Watts. “Joy to the World’ and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” are among his hymns.

Is it possible that every generation has had these complaints? Is it possible that worship has always been evolving with the times? Have people stopped to consider that the way they worship today is likely to be different in the worship of tomorrow?

Worship is not merely an observable action. The church I pastored in Houston had four mission churches. They were Filipino, African, Indonesian and Arabic. Each one worshiped differently. Each one had a rich worship. It would have been hard to explain why they were so different if worship had to follow a certain pattern for it to be authentic worship.

Worship is something that happens in the heart. (That may be the reason that people aren't singing.) It comes from within. It does not matter if the person is singing the words if the heart is not in tune with the song.

I personally do not like liturgical worship but I do not believe that those who practice it are lacking in worship. It doesn't matter if they read everything that is being said if what is being said is a reflection of their hearts. I realize what draws me closer to God may not draw others and that which draws them may not draw me.

When will we learn that worship does not come from the lips if it does not also come from the heart?

Isaiah 29:13 (NIV)
13 The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

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