June - Worship

June 2004

Worship is more than a song…

We spoke a few months ago to 1,500 students at Taylor University, a small Christian college in Indiana. We arrived at the meeting two hours early to check the sound, meet the chapel coordinators, and go over the schedule of the chapel service. About fifteen minutes before the meeting we were told to meet with the campus pastor in his office. As we sat down to talk with him, he asked us if we had everything that we needed and if we were aware of the schedule of the chapel service. In response I told him that we had been well taken care of and made aware of the schedule of events. I also told him that I didn't think that there would be any worship that morning, as most of our evening meetings begin with worship. He piped back, "The entire chapel is worship, what you mean to say is that we won't be having any music." His stern correction stung at first, but he put into words what I have been thinking about all semester.

Every evening we meet with students from a range of campus ministries, but all meetings are the same. We mingle and meet students about 20 minutes before the meeting starts. The meeting usually starts with announcements and often a little ice breaker game. Eventually the worship band takes the stage, and they begin to sing their four song worship set. Students quickly move from awkwardly talking to me and each other to pouring their hearts out to God in the words that they sing during the song set. I've noticed lately that we often don't even think about the words that we sing. Many nights we sing a song entitled You Said - it's the "perfect" missions song. In it we sing, "Ask and I'll give the nations to you; O Lord, that's the cry of my heart." Students emotionally say that what they want for God is for Him to be known and worshiped among the nations, yet when we challenge them to GO to the nations they unashamedly give their excuses for why they shouldn't take part. The Famous One is another popular song that we sing. Night after night we excitedly praise God for being the Famous One in all the earth. With 2.4 billion people that have never even heard the gospel, it is hard for me to believe that God today is "the Famous One in all the earth." The things that we sing out in our worship songs are often untrue of God's reputation and character, and our lives do not match up to the things that we claim. Our worship is nothing more than a song.

Wanting my life and worship to be more than a song, I have thought a lot about my authenticity as a follower of Christ. I listened to a talk yesterday by John Ortberg, author of The Life You've Always Wanted, in which he speaks to pastors about spiritual authenticity. In the talk he defines a disciple as one who finds out what Jesus life would be like on earth, and then reorders his life around the things that Jesus would be doing. He practices the disciplines that would help him to live more like Jesus, breaking down the barriers that keep him from living that life. When I sing about the nations being the cry of my heart I want to really mean it. I want to be bringing the gospel to the nations every way that I can by praying, going, and mobilizing others to go. When I declare God to be the famous one in all the earth I want to mean it. I want God to be the famous one in all the earth. For me, that practically looks like driving to one more state, sleeping in one more strange bed, speaking at one more campus meeting, and meeting with one more college girl. In Romans 12:1 Paul urges, "In view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship." The lives that we live are so much more important to God than the songs that we sing or the things that we profess to do. I pray that the lives that we live would be more than just a song. I pray that they would be living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God and that would be our spiritual act of worship.

by Megan Grober