God’s Favorite Kind of Worship
As two dozen teenagers and I hefted a monstrously heavy wooden bench and prepared to slog it through the snow to the other side of the camp, I knew this was a different type of worship for most of us. Some people wouldn’t even call it worship – but God does.
I’ve often wondered what God’s favorite type of worship is.
Have you ever wondered if God has a favorite style? What does He like best? R&B? Passion? Soul Survivor? Bluegrass? Hillsong? Hymns? What do you think, really? We all say that He appreciates and receives our praise no matter the style, as long as it comes from the heart, but secretly…if it was just you and He, having a Macchiato at Peete’s (His coffee preference for sure), and you asked Him…Do you think He might have a favorite?
Well, guess what? He does.
God says this through the prophet Amos:
“I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”
(Amos 5 – The Message)
As a songwriter and contemporary worship leader, this passage is a tough one to wrestle with. His comment about music stings and challenges. He also offers no redemptive instruction regarding music at all. Now, I realize there are many other references throughout the Bible where music is encouraged as a true expression of worship. I know God loves music, but there seems to be two things He loves even more; Justice and Fairness. These are words with a sense of action embedded into them, action that awakens other virtues, as well; Compassion, Generosity, Service, Kindness. The questions we have to ask are; What would it look like for us to worship God the way He wants? What could this look like for our congregations during a “contemporary worship service” in which we seek to please God with our praise? And the toughest one of all; Are we really pleasing Him now?
As I’ve been wrestling with these thoughts, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate some unique worship expressions in a variety of ways, and I wanted to share the latest experience. Last week, I was the “speaker” and “worship leader” (use of quotes, because I’m still trying to figure out those titles) for a group of high school students in the mountains of Washington . I focused our times together around various postures; Praise, Thanksgiving, Petition, Obedience, and Celebration. During the “worship through obedience” gathering, we explored the ideas of justice and fairness – how those play out in generosity and service, and what it would like for us to put some muscle into or worship, to back up our words and prayers with action. I had the idea of attempting some kind of service project for the camp. It turned out that they needed a 30 foot long, 1,500 pound workbench moved from one shop to another…300 yards…through the snow. If we could help with this, it’d be a huge blessing they said. We agreed to make it a part of our worship, and instead of singing a few songs in a nice, warm auditorium, we put on our boots and headed out into the weather.
The camp’s hosts had fashioned beams going under the long bench so that each student had a hand hold. We remembered the Israelites and the Ark of Covenant. We laughed, sized up the job, cheered each other on, counted to three, and lifted! It was hard work, but nothing could wipe the smile off our faces! It took all we had to get that table to it’s new spot. We were spent! Our aching arms, legs, and backs proved the effort (and to think there’s actually a computer program called “EASY WORSHIP”). We cheered. We celebrated. And afterward, we even carried a few lighter boards on the way back. Now that’s a picture of God-pleasing praise!
How about for you? Is there an action step you could make toward justice and fairness in your life? Could you take that step today, tonight, this week?
I didn’t regret one second of this service, and I doubt I’ll ever forget it. Did I get to share some of the songs I’ve been working on and preparing for years? No. Did we cry, get goose-bumps, or experience warm, tingly sensations as a band played? Not exactly. Our footsteps created the rhythm, our voices shouted a crude, spirited melody, and a beautiful song rose to the heavens. We obeyed. We served. We gave. We offered a real, one of kind gift to God, a sacrifice, and I KNOW He loved it. And how am I so sure? Because that’s His favorite kind of worship.