By: Dev Menon
Taken from this blog: http://danhames.blogspot.com/
Why do Christians sing? In Psalm 9, David says he will sing praises to the Name of the Lord with his whole heart and the scriptures often invites us do the same. It seems that the Lord especially enjoys our music and singing. For this reason, one of New Word Alive’s values is a commitment to engage with God together, and our corporate worship is part of this. This week, we will be singing in all of our main meetings led by Bob and Lewis, and it is far from an incidental part of the programme, for the Lord loves it when we sing our worship to him. As Psalm 9 reveals, signing to him is a matter of our hearts, of the deepest part of us, and it expresses our affection, love, and devotion to the God who has loved us first.
We sometimes think of ‘worship’ in very un-relational ways, wary of using the word in reference to singing or other parts of our meeting together. We rightly go to ‘all of life is worship’ and quote Romans 12:1–2—and of course we hope to live-out our love for Christ in everything we do—but the fact is, he hasn’t only asked us to come before him with pot washing or lawn mowing! The Lord draws us to a relational closeness in which we enjoy and experience his beauty and goodness. In the face of such a grand invitation we must not run the risk of making worship into nothing but plodding along with life, as if there were no specific times of personal and heartfelt communication with our Lord.
So how do you make the most of times of corporate worship? What goes on when the Church gathers and sings to the Lord? Do we stand with our hands in our pockets waiting for the sermon? Are our songs and hymns mini sermons set to music– serving simply to teach us more truth? It should go far deeper than this. When we sing and worship together, we are engaging with our loving God. We are drawing near to the Father who has given his precious Son to in order to be near to us. Singing to the Lord is a profound heart to heart. While we don’t drop in and out of ‘God’s presence’ as Christians, and while we cannot make ourselves ‘closer’ to God by doing ‘spiritual’ things or ‘further’ from him by doing ‘carnal’ things, day to day there are clear opportunities for us to draw near to him as James 4:8 encourages us. Opening the Bible, turning to him in prayer, worshipping him in song.
A married couple live in an unchanging closeness of union, but are not always in conversation. They are husband and wife at all times, and every moment of every day is defined by their loving commitment to one another– but they don’t constantly express this to one another. There are moments when the ordinary passage of the union is gathered up into special expressions of relationship. In the same way, our corporate worship is a specific engagement with the Lord above and beyond the daily relationship we enjoy with him.
Just as in a marriage it is natural to set aside time for an intimate meal or a quiet walk, so our corporate worship is just such a deliberate intensification of all that our relationship with the Lord means to us. In it we gather up our day to day experience of Jesus’ grace; we expresses our affection in response to the love of God lavished on us in Christ. We enjoy his great generosity and kindness each day, and so, like David, we find ourselves singing to him with grateful hearts. One of the New Testament words for worship speaks of turning towards the Lord with tenderness and love, even implying an embrace or a kiss. Such language of intimacy and love should not make us bristle as if it were inappropriate or uncomfortable, for marriage itself is one of the Bible’s most frequent pictures for our relationship with the Lord. This is the closeness of relationship he desires with us.
Singing to the Lord is as natural to Christians as it is to the birds every morning. We sing to pour out our hearts to our Father, speaking, praying, and praising him with melody in our hearts and on our lips. It is an act of personal engagement– an ‘I love you’, an embrace, an overflow of gratitude. Why do we sing? Well we sing because we can hardly stop ourselves. We sing because of hearts won to Jesus and his Father. We gladly remember his work in our lives, and voice our love for the God who Zephaniah 3:17 tells us sings over us with joy. He is God most worthy of praise and adoration whose very nature makes our hearts overflow.