When I was seven years old I sang my first solo in church, “Fairest Lord Jesus”. Highly aware that people were looking at me, being distracted with all the details of performing music, I became aware of something wonderful that transcended the experience itself. I sensed an awareness of God, not only in the words of the song, but especially in the attitude that came over me as I connected with their message.
Little did I know this was an important step to learn worship – to embrace truth with my spirit, as well as with my mind. Several years passed before I became aware of how Jesus defined Christian worship. In John 4:24, He said His Father sought out people, worshipers – who would worship Him in spirit and truth He said this to someone who had no right to having an inside track with God, implying that God-honoring worship is intended for all people, not just those who consider themselves to be religious.
What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? To worship in spirit means my spirit must embrace God, my emotions must be available to Him, I must be present with my will and alert to Him. I must be intentional in my relationship to Him. This is more than just showing up and going through motions – so easy to do in a so-called church service. And so easy to just be performing music.
To worship God in truth means I worship according to God’s truth.
The truth is…
…God is holy, perfect, set apart from all this world’s corruption and brokenness.
…I’m a sinner, incapable of pleasing God in my own efforts – no matter how many wonderful and selfless things I have done.
…Only through His provision for salvation, His Son, Jesus Christ, can I ever have any hope of being with Him, now and forever.
…The saving act of Jesus on the cross, brutalized more than any man, paying the penalty for my sin, and the miraculously raising from the dead three days later, is the crucial, fundamental, and most logical reason for my surrender to Him.
…Giving my all, in every sense and implication, out of gratitude and not duty, is the beginning point of my worship to Him. This is the entry point of honoring God.
So – having dealt with your heart, now you can deal with your art.
Song transitions and other details of performing music should be important only after the issue of surrender is settled for each church musician. Enjoying God is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the result of following a formula or a checklist. To accommodate Him, our hearts must be prepared. If art comes before heart, even the most musically solid song package will only result in entertaining people, instead of engaging God.