How do you Praise God? Today we have battles over the music that is sung in church. We have the traditionalists calling us back to the solid songs of their youth. They argue that the best music supports the church theologically and musically. It is largely a call to the rich heritage of the church.
However, what is often missing in this argument is that often whether contemporary or traditional, we go to church, be entertained by the music and preaching we like, and then we go home unchanged. We want our music so that we can enjoy the service. We want to either should and jump up and clap or sit there in contemplative silence, but the music too often doesn’t call us to live a better life.
Something is wrong with that kind of worship that doesn’t lead to changed people. It was this kind of worship that God said God hated. God was tired of the music. We can be so proud of our orchestra’s playing “Holy, Holy, Holy” or our praise teams singing the latest praise song that we don’t recognize whether it makes any difference in our lives or the lives of those who are touched by us. God would rather we shut the church doors than continue our useless worship (Malachi 1:10).
God is tired of worship that ends at the door. God is tired of worship that is just so folks can “get their praise on” but doesn’t help you live a better life. God is tired of worship that makes you proud of the great brass and string players in your orchestra. God is tired of worship that doesn’t affect the people you come into contact with during the week. (Isaiah 1:11-13)
There is a cliche’ int he Black church that says that “Hallelujah is the highest praise.” It is a faulty one. God says, shut up and repent. God says, I’m tired of it. God says, obedience is better than sacrifice (worship). (1 Samuel 15:22)
Too often worship is an end to itself. We battle to make the pulpit acrylic versus wooden. We argue over whether to have drums versus whether to have strings. We argue over whether we sing hymns or gospel songs. But today, let us stop the singing and start ministering to each other and the larger community. Then let us come back to worship with the added perspective that doing God’s will brings.
I love orchestras playing hymns and the great songs from the history of the Christian church. In addition, I love some of the great gospel songs of today. I pray that God will help me to love God’s will as much as I love to sing and worship the Almighty and Just God.