Music is food for the soul. That’s what they say isn’t it? Yet I can come out of church and feel more hungry than ever.
I’ve always had a love hate relationship with worship and music in church. I own albums by some of the most well know worship acts around today, but more often than not this type of music is missing something for me. There is an easiness to it that I don’t find sits well with me. Worship music has become music by numbers. We try and write songs that could easily sound as if they are Coldplay and Snow Patrol songs. Which is alright unless you aren’t a fan of those bands.
Then you might as well be outside.
Good music for me points to something else, maybe even somewhere else. Somewhere out of what we are experiencing right now. A song has the power to make your day better or worse. It can change how you view the world, can give you optimism and hope. It is much bigger than me or you.
When it comes to worship music there is a lot of focus on God and I. There are a lot of songs about how great God is and how wonderful He is, which He is. But what about the Sunday when you don’t feel that way about God? Singing big rock songs with guitars and solos is maybe not going to transcend you into a place where you feel God’s breath close and where comfort resides.
This is the paradox that worship music must live in. How do we worship a God who deserves our worship when we don’t feel like there is much to worship?
But isn’t worshipping about God and not about us? Isn’t that making ourselves and our emotions idols?
Maybe. These are questions I have wrestled with but the more I wrestle with them the more I see that true worship is being ourselves before God. This means that when we are in a dark place not ignoring those feelings and trying to ‘get into’ Church worship but coming before God honestly, even if that means telling Him we can’t stand Him right now.
David in the Psalms spent a lot of time doing this. Crying out in anguish to God. He spent a lot of time joyfully praising Him too but he understood that God wants every part of us to come to Him. And he did it through song too.
The idea is not that we don’t give God the praise He is due but that we understand that He wants worship to be genuine and not a show; that it comes from a place of genuine feelings for Him. But that when we don’t feel like God is amazing or indescribable, we can still approach Him.
If coming to Him in a state of genuine despair occurs over going through the emotions, singing the same songs over and over then that is what He wants.
Because He is amazing.
Because how we feel about Him doesn’t affect how He feels for us.
Coming to Him with that sense of reality despite how we feel is my definition of worship.
There is a subtle message in most modern worship music that unless you don’t feel like jumping up and down and lifting your hands then there is something wrong with you.
But God is incredibly bigger than the congregation who worship and intricately smaller than each individual too.
Which means there is no place that we can go to hide from Him. This is not to strike fear in our hearts but as an invitation to come to Him with everything.
As a call to worship.
As you are.
Not how you think you should be.