Throughout history, music styles have changed from one decade to the next. It’s a never-ending evolution as people became inspired with creativity, breaking from the norm of the day to create something new. In fact, it’s happened with every genre, from home decorations to clothing, home appliances to automobile styles. In some cases, we should be grateful for the new inventions and creativity since it has impacted our productivity and safety!
In all things we have our personal preferences because that’s the way God created our personalities. It’s what makes us unique from everyone else. But often we tend to put our likes and dislikes into boxes labeled “right” and “wrong.” It’s human nature considering the way our culture, education, and family have influenced us. In many areas, however, we gyp God when we dismiss one style as insignificant, and embrace another style like it’s the only accurate choice.
One of those categories is worship music styles. We can easily turn up our noses at a certain a style simply because it’s not familiar to us or does not fit our liking. But when it comes to worship, Jesus really doesn’t care about style. He doesn’t care if it contains an organ or an electric guitar. He’s not concerned whether there’s a choir or simply backup vocals. What He’s really looking for is the state of the heart.
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
We could be belting a song out with the latest or oldest trends, yet not truly be worshipping. Emotions could be running high with the dynamics of the song, but our hearts be far from the God of the worship. This is when we can pause and ask ourselves: “Am I worshipping the music, or am I truly worshipping God?” It’s possible to totally dislike a song style, but still engage in worship because the One we’re singing to deserves it all and more.
Something else God is looking for biblical song lyrics. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). If we’re truly going to worship Him in a way that honors Him, what’s coming out of our mouths must honor Him. Anything that is contrary to His Word dishonors Him. So as we sing our worship songs, it’s important to consider what we’re saying. Can God’s Holy Word back it? If it cannot, we need to choose something that does, regardless of the style.
Spiritual maturity in worship equals being able to worship under any condition. It worships with or without music. It worships with or without our style preference, or an atmosphere that suits our emotions. When we are spiritually strong in our worship, we should be able to worship anytime, anyplace.
Consider a story from the New Testament. In it, the condition was far from comfortable compared to modern standards. It’s the story of Paul and Silas following an unjust jailing for setting someone free from demons.
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:22-25).
Paul and Silas understood the power of worship. But they also understood what true worship looked like. They didn’t wait for a guitarist to enter their jail cell before they sang. They didn’t demand a clean cell with good lighting and acoustics before they magnified God. From hearts dedicated completely to Jesus, they exalted Him despite their physical or mental preferences. This is true spiritual maturity in action!
Throughout the Bible, in the book of Psalms especially, we see verses where God specifically tells us how and with what to worship. It includes utilizing the vocal cords through singing and shouting. It calls for instruments of all kinds—symbols, strings, and horns. It specifies physical action through clapping and dancing (Psalm 150). Though our earthly efforts couldn’t compare to what Jesus receives in heaven, our hearts cry should be, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10) This is a purity of worship that only a born-again Christian can give—no matter what our preferences may be!
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne… And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:2, 5, 8-11).