Key principle #8 for moving discipleship from great to good: Equate worship with song.
The music starts softly and builds throughout the verses as it crescendos to a grand, sustained chorus that celebrates the matchless glory of God. Beautiful. Fortissimo. It stirs the emotions causing some to stand, some to clap, others to raise their hands, and perhaps others to cry. It stirs the heart and provides an emotional release. It feels great. It is good.
Worship is beautiful in the realm of good. Trained musicians lead people through a set of songs that prepare people to hear from God. Creativity and talent abound. Churches providing a place to share a special worship song starts or advances the careers of many of the top names in today’s pop culture scene. These are the people who transition from worship to performance. As for worship, though, each set is prepared, rehearsed, and executed in the allocated time. It is a part of the church experience. It is part of a disciple’s life.
Jesus was both a practitioner and an advocate of worship. With 11 of his disciples, he sang after sharing a last meal with them. To the Samaritan woman, he spoke about the worshiper that God seeks–one that “worship[s] in spirit and in truth.” He worshiped the Father while in the midst of temptation in the wilderness. He worshiped as He proclaimed the gospel to individuals and groups; fed 5,000; sent the disciples out; told parables; healed people; and died on the cross. His was a life of worship. It was great.
Later Paul would write about the practical living out of our lives in light of how exalted God is. He writes: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, 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 idea was not new. The model of this lifestyle–Emmanuel–is there for us to examine and follow as we study the gospels. This is a worship worth passing to a disciple. A worship worth living. Worship that is great.
more and less
Worship includes music. It must. David, Asaph and others were fans in the Psalms. Miriam sang at length. John records a bunch of singing and praise occurring throughout heaven in Revelation. However, to share that the emphasis placed on song throughout the gospels and Acts is not a primary area of emphasis is actual if not an understatement. In the first five books of the New Testament, worship often takes the form of prayer as well as time together with both Christ followers and those that were not yet resolved to do so. Worship is recorded as personal sacrifice and even death. We see worship lived out in the life of the individual and in community.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)