As many of you know, Josh Smith joined the Good Life team on Easter Sunday. Though Josh is an accomplished vocalist, musician and songwriter, I was most impacted by his humility and teachability during the interview process. (Sometimes rare characteristics for people who spend a lot of time on a stage or platform). As Josh continues to grow into his role at Good Life by leading worship on Sunday’s, discipling young worship leaders and developing worship bands, he also is responsible to set an example for worship throughout the week. We are blessed to have Josh as a part of our team and the following post is the first of many that will help us re-define and re-direct both the idea and practice of our worship of JESUS CHRIST.
MORE THAN A SONG
Have you ever walked away from a Sunday morning worship service feeling a little let down? Feeling like you didn’t really connect with the Lord? Wishing you had reached the “mountain-top”, but instead feeling like you are still in the “valley”. I know I have. There are a lot of possible factors. Maybe, the songs weren’t my favorite, or the lighting was all wrong. Maybe, the people sitting next to me were singing off key (and so was the worship leader). It was either too loud or too quiet or both at the same time, if that is even possible. The pastor never even said hello to me. The coffee was way too hot and the cream was too cold! Somebody was rude enough to eat all the muffins. And don’t even get me started on worship slides! I mean, how am I supposed to sing along if the person running the program can’t even keep up with the band? If you’ve ever found yourself speaking or even thinking along these lines, we have something in common. We have both, at times, grossly misunderstood worship!
True worship has little to do with music, and much to do with our lives. In Romans 12, Paul tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord. It even calls this our “…spiritual act of worship”. It challenges us, not to conform to the world, but to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. Worship is born out of our daily walk with Jesus. Before we can sing, “We raise our white flag and we surrender all to You”, we have at least be in the process of doing it! Jesus is much more concerned with the lives we live than the songs we sing. When we live our lives outside of obedience to Him, our songs are empty and offensive to Him.
In the book of Amos, God’s people had abandoned the ways of the Lord, but had the nerve to still carry on church services! God said this about their music, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:23-24
So, why bother with church at all? You might say, “If Jesus is more concerned with our daily walk, certainly He won’t mind if we just don’t show up on Sunday”. Or you could say, “Well, my walk isn’t so great and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”
Let me share with you what I am learning in response to these thoughts. God WANTS us there! Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” You see, we absolutely need God AND each other. God has created us to depend first on Him, and second on our faith community (local church). It doesn’t matter if you are far along in your journey or just starting out, the weekly gathering of the local church is for you!
So there is value in being there, but what about participating? What if singing, or clapping, or raising hands isn’t “your thing”? The scriptures speak to that idea as well. In Ephesians 5:19-20, we are told to address one another with, “…psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Singing along isn’t about your talent level or how you feel that morning. We sing to celebrate who God is, what He has done and what He has promised to do! We sing to express our gratitude! We sing to remind each other to chase after Jesus!
Worship is more than a song. Worship is more than a positive energy or a warm and fuzzy feeling. Worship is more than what we do from 10:30-11:45 every Sunday at Tara. Worship happens as we follow Jesus. It is a life sacrificed for Him everyday.
So I leave you with this thought to chew on, if you want the “mountain-top” experience this Sunday, spend Monday through Saturday climbing the mountain.
Climbing the Mountain,
Josh Smith, Worship Pastor