We have such a tendency to water down words. Lessening their impact through casual use: awesome, love, and worship were the three that came to mind.
Worship? You might ask, “How has worship been watered down?” As I took time to think about the word, I began to realize something. Just as we have lessened the impact of words such as awesome and love through overuse, we have done much the same with the word worship through underuse.
We have so narrowed its scope until – in our current Christian culture – we relegate it to simply a style of music or a segment of time in our church services. Though worship is what we do during our church services, from the first welcome to the benediction, it is so much more. It is attitude, it is action, it is a way of life.
As I thought about all the hundreds and hundreds of times I have lead worship through music in churches, in a variety of denominations, James 1:27 came to mind. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” I began to recall several settings in which I’ve lead worship: large churches, small churches, conferences, and festivals, in many states.
But the two instances which stand out most are not found in the big venues, but in the small church basement where I first lead worship with children from 2-10 years old, and the nursing homes where I (and often my family) have lead these old dear saints in the singing of hymns. Both ends of the age spectrum represent to me the childlike faith Jesus referred to in Matthew 18:3 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I believe we refuse to let the world corrupt us when we use our gifts to serve others including those who have nothing to give us in return – the children, the elderly, the sick. Yes, as I look back the most impactful worship experiences I have had are seeing these little children sing with reckless abandon, and the elderly – who often didn’t know where they were or what day it was – with tears streaming down their face singing every word to every hymn I sang.
For vocational artists it is certainly necessary that we are able to pay our bills. But for me I am realizing more and more that it is in using my gifts to serve those who have nothing to offer in return. That helps me keep a healthy perspective on what it means to truly worship.