As we worship with songs based in Scripture, we grow in our knowledge of who God really is. We are changed by our worship.
As a high school junior attending a youth group gathering filled with bright lights, loud music, and excited students, I distinctly remember taking a step back to consider what we were singing. Throughout my high school years, I began to realize that while so many of my favorite Christian songs contained some small ounce of biblical truth, they were void of depth.
I would suggest that worship isn’t primarily about how we feel, but about who God is.
In his book, A Heart for God, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson states, “The foundation of worship in the heart is not emotional … it is theological.” Ferguson is right; while worship should certainly engage our emotions, our emotions are not the foundation of our worship. Yet, somehow we’ve begun to care more about how the words make us feel than what they say about Him.
When we worship, we are acknowledging God’s greatness and our sinfulness. When we choose to sing songs with deep, rich lyrics, we are led to a greater understanding of and love for God. We are changed by our worship.
3 Ways We Are Changed By Our Worship
Too often, we come to church and sing in worship to feel as if God is present … without listening to the words we are singing. When we do this, we may feel good in the moment, but we leave and enter the rest of our week unchanged.
When we listen to what the worship lyrics say about who God is, however, we can carry those truths with us throughout the week. We are changed by our worship when it leads us to love God for who He is.
Worship Informs Our View of God
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9).
As we express praise to God and declare truths about His character, we grow in our knowledge of who He is. Just as sermons and books teach us, song lyrics are lessons that stick in our head. Our view of God is undoubtedly shaped by the words we sing about Him.
As we sing songs rooted in Scripture, our minds gain a more accurate idea of who God is: the loving and incredible Creator of the universe.
Why would we sing songs that give us a shallow view of God, rather than this rich truth?
Worship Grows Our Affection
If, like me, you grew up going to church camp, or you’ve been on a short-term mission trip, you know that the “spiritual high” quickly fades. But songs can have a lasting effect on us, as we continue to revisit the lyrics.
In one of his sermons, noted pastor John Piper put it bluntly when he said, “Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.”
Our affection for God is motivated by our knowledge of God. We can’t worship Him rightly without knowing Him. This is why we should sing songs that remind us of what God’s Word teaches. As you grow in your understanding of who God is and how His people are to love one another, your love for God will deepen and grow.
Often, we sacrifice doctrinal integrity for an emotional experience. Worship should stir feelings within us, but the feeling is not primarily what we’re after. We’re after God. God is the goal.
Worship Unites the Church
Bob Kaufilin, in his popular 2008 book, Worship Matters, wrote: “Singing glorifies God by expressing the unity we enjoy through the Gospel.” When believers of different socioeconomic classes, generations, and backgrounds come together to sing the truths of Scripture, they are united around the historic faith they share.
In 2015 I stood with several dozen people in a bilingual church in the heart of Panamá, the tiny country that links Central and South America. As we sang to the Lord in our native languages, we were united not just by the feelings we experienced, but the truths we declared. God can do a mighty work through those who sing together about who He is and how He has transformed their lives.
The next time you sing along to your favorite worship song, stop and consider the lyrics. Do the words point you toward an accurate picture of God, as presented in Scripture? Our aim should be to exalt and adore God, who created everything and everyone. The One who has forgiven us despite our sin, through the sacrifice of the Son He sent to die for us.
I hope that the next time you sing a worship song, your love for God grows as you consider just how wonderful He really is. Be changed by your worship!
Worship the Lord!
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Written by guest blogger Cole Shiflet. Cole is a Junior at Samford University studying Journalism and Mass Communication. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Cole serves as the executive director of Anchored Passion. Cole writes regularly for Radical.net and Rooted Ministry.