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Worship is Both Reflective and Determinative


“That’s it. That’s how I feel.”

There have been so many times I have participated in a worship service and found myself thinking those words. We will sing a song together, and as the music begins to wash over me—through me—I realize that the lyrics I am hearing and also singing are an articulation of what I’ve been feeling.

This is one of the great and beautiful gifts of music. Especially congregational music. It’s that the lyrics give voice and clarity to the muddled up thoughts and emotions in my mind and heart. When we sing songs together as the body of Christ, we find the words we need to express what we can’t seem to on our own.

Not only that, but we find those words couched in beauty. In music. Through someone else’s gift, we can find expression of our own hearts.

In this way, worship is reflective. It’s reflective of all those things we are feeling but can’t rightly express. It’s through worship that we join our hearts together in a unified, verbal expression of pent up desires, fears, faith, and everything in between.

“That’s it. That’s how I feel. And this song finally put those feelings into words.”

But worship is not only reflective; worship is determinative. What we sing gives shape to the present.

Here’s what I DON’T mean by that: I don’t mean that we can somehow praise something into existence. That we can sing songs about victory and all our circumstantial problems will go away. This is not some name it and claim it worship methodology. What I mean is that when we sing, our understanding and perspective on the present is shaped.

When we sing together, we are not only reflecting what we feel; we are determining what we feel. We are trying to bring our feelings in line with the reality of what we know to be true about God from his Word.

See, the problem with our emotions is that they are corrupted by sin, just as every part of us is. We might know the truth, but that doesn’t mean we feel the truth.

Part of growing in Jesus is recognizing this disparity, that there is a gap between what we know and what we feel. And submitting ourselves to the lordship of Jesus means not only submitting our actions, but doing our best to submit our feelings as well.