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We have all had at least one day on which we went to church looking for good music before looking to worship God no matter what. We all have, at least once, gone to a church solely because of the musicianship of their worship team; or even avoided going to a church because their worship team was not the best, musically speaking. “I could not worship at that church because their worship team was so bad,” is a sentence that we might seldom say, but certainly think in our heads more often than we would like to admit. However, we should ask ourselves one big question in situations like that: am I here as a spectator of a Christian music concert, or as a worshiper of a living God that dwells in the praises of His people? Shamefully, we are way too concerned with being music analyzers and critics of church’s music that we are missing out on being partakers in the congregational worship.
As a musician, I strongly believe that I am called to be excellent in what I do for the Lord.
Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”
Also, Colossians 2:18 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
I believe God is glorified with good music and with good art, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with striving for excellence in music, but I also believe that we cannot have the thought that artistic excellence is a measurement of worship authenticity, or even worse – that artistic excellence is more important than the sincerity of our hearts.
God cares way more about our hearts than about our works. Think of worship services as sacrifices, like in the Old Testament. God had always commanded His people to offer Him the best of what they had as sacrifices, completely flawless. Likewise, God tells us to make good music for Him. However, countless times in the Old Testament God verbalizes His wrath to His people because they sacrificed all they had, but were still far from God. Look what Isaiah 29:13 says:
“This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.”
We are all so worried about musical excellence that our worship is becoming more and more dull to God. But David understood well what God really wants from us as he says in Psalm 51:16-17:
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
GOD WANTS OUR HEARTS MORE THAN HE WANTS OUR ART.
God wants our hearts more than He wants our art. He wants us to humble ourselves before Him and worship Him independently of the circumstances – whether the music is Hillsong-like quality, or youth group-like quality, He wants us to worship Him the same way. Let us not waste our time being bothered if the art we contemplate does not meet our standards, but let us realize that moments of congregational worship are sacred and tremendously special, because they are moments on which we can connect with the body of Christ and worship the God who gave His son to die for us to live and for this very body to exist. He wants us to be not music critics or concert spectators, but worshipers.