And be thankful. -Colossians 3:15b
For some time now I have waged worship war in my own heart and mind.
You've heard the controversy. What forms of worship are fitting? What music is appropriate? Dress-up or casual?
I have been a performer. I have been paid to do something which I would certainly have done for free: to make music with my friends and receive the approval of my listeners. If you made the statement that performing is a drug (of sorts), you would get no argument from me.
It would be a temptation for me to turn an act of praise into an exercise in self-gratification. You see the problem. Vertical worship becomes horizontal.
Yet as one blessed by God with a certain musical talent, I have been called upon to assist in worship. To facilitate the worship of my brothers and sisters, if you will.
And so, "to the teaching and to the testimony," as Isaiah counsels. What guidance can I get from Scripture?
Throughout the Old Testament we see God's people using every musical instrument imaginable in worship. Everything, it seems, but Marshall stacks!
Oh there were very precise instructions for the rest of worship. "Reverence and awe" are definitely indicated and indeed required.
New Testament instructions for worship seem sparse by comparison but two passages stand out in my mind. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are nearly identical.
Both are part of longer passages addressing how we are to worship. In Colossians especially, we find the concept of thankfulness. Three times in three verses, the word, or a form of it is used.
Servanthood is also an important concept in NT teaching and must necessarily, I think, be applied to our worship of God. Not only in our relationship to Him, but also to each other.
Paul reminds us that we are each gifted in various ways to serve one another. It goes back, then, to the call to assist in worship.
Outward form is still very important, I think. I would be extremely uncomfortable trying to worship in a setting where the Marshall stacks of amplifiers were used. In fact, I admit to being disinclined toward the use of contemporary music at all in worship.
The New Testament has given us fairly specific instructions on how the church is to be governed. We have a session in place, of elders, who make the necessary decisions (prayerfully) of how we conduct our worship.
My duty, I believe, is to serve in whatever capacity I am asked. I have a further duty, I believe, to express any concerns or reservations I might have, but to bow ultimately to the wisdom of these men we have selected to shepherd the flock. And to serve gladly.
But most importantly I am required to bring a thankful heart to whatever I do in the name of the Lord Jesus.