Something has been in my mind, especially this last week. I’ve been thinking about our church singing and how important it is that we sing authentically. Have you ever had the experience where you gather with God’s people, come into a time of singing songs of praise to the Lord, and you suddenly realise you’ve been thinking about something completely different than the words you’re singing? Something that should be a joy has become routine and lifeless as you go through the motions of doing those same old songs again before you can sit down again.
It got me thinking. I wonder how many others sometimes struggle with that very same thing I do? It could be just me, but I think it’s probably not. So hopefully this post serves as a reminder (first and foremost to myself) that we should be more conscious and deliberate about singing the words we do.
In Spirit And Truth
Jesus said something to the Samaritan women by the well that should directly affect the way we sing. Listen carefully to His words:
“ But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24 – ESV).
While worship is far more than just singing, this principle still applies to when we sing, which is one way we can corporately express our worship to God. As we worship God through song we should be doing so in spirit and truth. ‘In truth’ would include meaning that we sing with a true knowledge of the God we’re worshipping, as He has revealed Himself to be. And ‘in spirit’ means that our hearts need to be fully engaged with what we’re singing. Otherwise our sung worship isn’t really in spirit and truth, which is the sort of worship God desires and loves.
The ‘Delight’ Factor
I think that a central aspect of our sung praise should be delight. We should not sing because we have to sing, or because it’s just what we’ve always done. It should be so much more. Singing praises to God with His people should be our delight! We should take joy in the privilege and opportunity to express in song what sometimes we can’t express just in words. Singing allows our emotions to more fully express and respond to the truths we’re singing about God, Christ, our salvation, and many other facets of our faith (not to mention encouragement it is to each other as we sing about God and His character and works). Shouldn’t you and I be delighting in these things we’re singing?
From God’s perspective, He also takes delight when we truly sing with joy, passion, and genuine hearts set towards glorifying Him. He delights in His people’s authentic, heartfelt praises. Can you imagine someone coming and praising you for something you’ve done and only muttering this praise half-heartedly while looking away – obviously disinterested. Though they said something good, you wouldn’t take any joy in their compliment because it’s not genuine and authentic. God is after so much more than His children just mechanically singing the right things to Him – but He delights and takes joy in our praise when we aren’t halfhearted but with passion actually mean what we sing!
Half-Hearted About These Things?
And a final thought. It’s interesting we can go to a sports match of our local team, and when they score or do something good, almost everyone there is on their feet passionately cheering, arms in the air, voices shouting praises to their team. Yet some of the same people so wild about loudly expressing their team’s success can the next morning be gathering with God’s people and singing songs with absolutely no excitement or passion – like they’re singing about the most uninteresting things in the world! It ought not to be this way!
When we think of who we’re singing about and to, what we’re singing about, and what is motivating us to sing – we should have a hundred times more passion than anyone at that sports match. Can we not be more excited to exclaim the praises of our awesome, majestic, beautiful, wonderful, gracious, sovereign God than that of our sports team who won a game against their arch rival? I think we need to regain some perspective, and remind ourselves and each other more regularly about what should really make us excited. After all, the good news really is the best news in the world.
Let’s be those sort of worshippers the Father seeks. Those whose worship the Lord delights in! And that’s the ones who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Let’s work towards being authentic singers.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on authentic worship and how important you think it is, and your own experiences of times you’ve struggled to be authentic in your singing and what’s helped? Anyone (including visitors) welcome to comment below….