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Do we really mean what we sing?

May 23, 2011

Last night I had a wonderful opportunity to help out with worship at the Fusion community.  I love getting to see our community of 180ish sing their hearts out to God, and, honestly, there’s nothing more fulfilling for me than to participate in worship with them.  We played a song called “To the Ends of the Earth” (Hillsong Australia), and I found myself, like I always do, singing along while I played.  We sang the phrase, “Jesus I believe in you, and I would go to the ends of the earth, to the ends of the earth…” and I got to thinking… Do I really mean that?

We sing a lot of things at church, don’t we?  I’ve sung the hymn “Come Thou Fount” (the best hymn of all time, obviously) countless times, and each time I sing the words, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.”  What the heck is an Ebenezer?  Am I supposed to pick up someone’s great uncle Ebenezer?  I don’t even know the guy!  So, if I don’t even know what an Ebenezer is, why am I declaring to God that I will raise one?  [It’s a “stone of help,” by he way.  See 1 Samuel 4:1; 5:1; 7:5-12]

I wonder, should we sing things we don’t mean?  Do we need to check our hearts before making such big claims of God’s goodness and faithfulness?  If I declare I’ll go “to the ends of the Earth,” shouldn’t I, you know, be willing to do so?  I think so.  You see, worship is so much more than just singing together with a bunch of other people.  It is a corporate experience, yes, but our words are not idle.  They are full of meaning.  And, more importantly, God hears them.  A worship service is not just a group sing-along; it is an act of love and devotion, declaring, as a community, the words we are singing.  Some songs are pretty harmless.  Singing the phrase, “There is none so high and holy” is pretty safe, because it’s a matter of fact.  There really is none as high and holy as the Lord.  But the phrase “Break my heart for what breaks Yours,” is pretty dangerous.  When I sing that, I’m asking God to break my heart.  Do I really even understand what that means?  Am I ready to make such a request?  Do I really want to deal with the consequences of a God-broken heart?  The stakes are much higher with that one.

I think the main thing to keep in mind here is that worship isn’t merely empty recitation along with the other folks in the room.  We are talking, telling God about our hearts, committing ourselves to Him, and proclaiming just how far we’d go to serve and obey.  Our words carry meaning.  So next time you’re at church singing that new Chris Tomlin tune, check your heart.  Ask yourself, “Do I really believe what I’m singing?”  If not, it’s okay to sit the tune out and think and pray.  And if you do, sing your heart out.

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