There a lots of styles of music. Because of this when it comes to the corporate act of worship, we often take those labels and use them to describe the kind of worship that is happening. Contermporary worship, traditional worship, modern worship, blended worship, bluegrass worship, or a variety of other options. We likely even leave church services on Sunday discussing whether or not this week had "good worship." The oddity of these labels for worship is that the Bible never seems to label worship as contemporary or traditional and likewise good worship and bad worship.
The Two Kinds of Worship
There are only two kinds of worship. There are thousands of styles of music, but only two kinds of worship. There are thousands of strategies to the methodology of a corporate worship gathering, but there are only two kinds of worship. In the book of John there's an incredible account of a woman who engages Jesus in a theological discussion about the context of their worship. She is concerned because one group of people say that worship should happen on this mountain and another group of people say it should happen on another mountain.
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” - John 4:23-24
For Jesus this conversation is not about what mode of worship is more "worshipful," it's about true worship and false worship. He makes it clear that the location of their worship doesn't dictate the object of their worship. True worship is in Spirit and in truth. And that can happen in any location. The same thought holds true for us today; worshippers must worship in Spirit and in truth. We can worship with all kinds of instruments or no instruments, but what really matters is whether or not this is true worship or false worship. We can worship in a variety of different styles, but are we worshipping in spirit and in truth?
What is the object of your worship? The object of your worship will reveal a lot about whether your worship is in Spirit and in truth or something entirely different. Do you worship a particular musical style? Can you only worship if there are certain instruments? Do you worship a feeling you get in the moments where the music is most passionate?
Or do you worship the crucified and risen Christ? Even on the days when you don't like the song choices. Even when you find yourself at a place that does music outside of your traidtion. Even on the days when you have no desire to be present; do you worship? True worship is not determined by the appearance of our actions but by the object of our affections. Do you worship in Spirit and in truth?
Spirit & Truth
"His worshippers must worship in Spirit and in truth." This is not a statement about location. This is not a statement about music. This is a statement about worship; all-of-life worship. God is Spirit; so as we worship in Spirit, we are worshipping in God. The only reason we can engage in worship is because of what Christ did for us on the cross. Worshipping in spirit, means that by the power of the Spirit alone we can approach God with confidence and respond to his death and ressurection.
The second half of the statment, "worshpping in truth," seems to be more black and white; as we worship are we speaking and living the truth? God speaks his truth to us in the scriptures, so does all we say and do line up with what God has told us to be true. When our choices are contrary to God's word, we aren't worshippng. When our words aren't biblical, we aren't worshipping. If what we are doing is done in truth, we are worshipping. The only thing that cannot be done as an act or worship is sin - because sin does not line up with the truth of scripture.
Photo Credit: camknows