CLEARING THE STAGE AND THE AIR
Jimmy Needham put out a cover of the song “Clear the Stage” back in 2012, but I was only introduced to it a year or 2 ago by my former pastor.
It is a song that challenges the notion that worship may, in fact, be more than a song or music. He challenges what are actually idols in our lives, and frankly, it’s a serious gut punch for anyone who truly hears the words…especially those like me who have served for years as the “worship leader”.
Want to talk about a song that hits you right in the kisser?
This song will do that! Check out a sample of the lyrics:
VERSE 1: Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols
Jerk the pews and all the decorations too
Until the congregations few then have revival
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you’re broken for y our sins you can’t be social
Then seek the Lord and wait for what He has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful
CHORUS: ‘Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to and still get it wrong
Oh worship is more than a song
Tell me something…when someone asks you about “worship”, where does your mind go first? If you are anything like me, it usually goes to music.
Biblically speaking, there’s certainly an aspect of worship that is musical.
But is this really where “worship” ends?
Simply put…no…this is not where worship ends…or even begins.
I’ll be honest, it’s not entirely our fault. I know many of us have read the Bible, and we mean no harm in our thinking, but we are missing a large portion of the picture as it relates to worship.
Unfortunately, if we are truly honest with ourselves, the Church at large has done a great deal to perpetuate the assumption that worship is simply music. After all, when we talk about our Sunday gatherings we usually refer to the singing/music part as “worship” and then everything else is just part of the regular grind of Sunday gatherings…ya know…prayer, teaching, preaching, tithes/offerings, etc.
Shoot…we’ve created a whole genre of music called “Praise and Worship” music, which continues to perpetuate this thinking. Unintentionally. I realize that.
Hear me when I say this, no one intended harm by isolating worship to music. I don’t think anyone was out there thinking of ways to confuse the subject of worship for the masses.
I also love the Church…after all, she is the Bride of Christ. And if I love Christ, I must also love His Bride…because I am part of that Bride.
But we need to be clear here…and clear the air a little, just because no harm was intended, doesn’t mean that no harm was done.
THE POWER OF MUSIC
I, like many of you, realize the potency of music. When we hear a certain song our minds go to certain places. Perhaps you hear a song that you danced to with your wife (or husband) back when you had your first date. Perhaps you hear a song that was playing the night your first girlfriend or boyfriend broke up with you. Perhaps you hear a song that was the favorite song of someone you deeply loved who has since passed away.
All sorts of emotions and memories get triggered through music.
I am also of the mind that due to the repetition of music, and the very nature of what it does as a stimulus to our brains, that music is also a form of teaching that can take place. How many of us can hear the music to a song we love, and easily recall the lyrics almost without hesitation? I know I can! I used to challenge myself when I was younger to try and spit out the lyrics of a line of a song before the singer got it out just to see if I remembered it correctly. I was often right.
I say all of this to simply acknowledge the power of music. It is indeed powerful. And God created it. There is music in heaven. Of that I am sure. God is a creative, and He takes great joy in creativity expressed by His creation.
So my issue here isn’t with worship music in and of itself.
My issue is that many of us seem to think that worship is only music and very little else. And this is dangerous thinking because we lose sight of so much more to the Christian life and worship because we are seeing but a pin hole view of worship.
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
In the book of Romans, chapter 12 to be exact, Paul gives us a brief and summarized example of what worship is. Here is what he said in verse 1:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
My take away from this is verse is simply this:
Our LIVES and how we live them is an act of worship.
- If we are singing praises to God with our lips and our hearts…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we are feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked with our hands…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we are deep in prayer and communing with God in our Spirit…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we are traveling to distant lands to bring the good news of the gospel to those who have never heard it…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we are speaking words of edification to one another in the Church body…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we are giving of our time and finances to help others who are hurting or in need…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we resist the temptation to look at porn and instead turn our heart and mind toward God…then we are worshiping Him.
- If we resist responding to ill treatment with vengeance…then we are worshiping Him.
In short, everything we say and do that glorifies God is an act of worship.
Consider something that Jesus said back in Matthew 25 concerning the moment we stand before the throne of judgement:
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f you did it to me.’
Did you see that?
Verse 40 especially?
Whatever we say and do to others…we do it to God.
Not only should this strike some fear in us about how we speak to and treat one another…but it should reveal to and affirm for us what I was saying about Paul’s words in Romans 12 about our lives being a living sacrifice and how we live being our spiritual act of worship.
So yes…I think it is safe to conclude that worship is more than a song. We can sing all the songs in the world that honor God, but still not honor Him with our lives…and in the end not actually worship Him at all.
Yes, worship Him in song, but worship Him even more so with your life.