The art of worship: More than music
I have no musical talent. This is a well-known fact among my friends and family. I always tease my pastor that I have the distinction of being the only person he’s ever asked not to join the choir.
Actually, that is not true. My pastor has asked me several times if I would like to join, because he cares less about putting on a show than he does bringing glory to the Lord. Saying that, however, lets people know right away that the choir is not my calling.
Allowing God the glory is the exact reason why I don’t join. I don’t have the gift, and although I love to praise the Lord, my talents lie in other directions. However, because there is such a huge focus in the church body on praise and worship, I decided to investigate ways to worship the Lord through other art forms.
The art of worship: Dictionary definition
First of all, let’s define worship. Webster’s New College Dictionary defines worship as:
1. The reverent love and allegiance accorded a deity, idol or sacred object.
2. Ardent, humble devotion.
It also means to participate in religious rites and to perform an act of worship. Nowhere in that definition does it say, “Worship is music only.”
The art of worship: Bible definitions
John 4:23-24 (NIV) says, “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.”
Let’s take a look at this. God is spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
If you have been given a gift or a talent from God to create, whether it is books, articles, sculpture, painting, buildings, music, dance, movies or whatever, then you as a Christian have an obligation to God to tap into your spirit and use that gift to worship God.
One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that baking a cake, planting a tree or even changing a baby’s diaper can be considered an act of worship. If the attitude of your heart is to bring glory to God then you are performing an act of worship.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. — 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:9-10 (NIV)
It has always been my firm belief that God is the ultimate artist, poet, writer and, of course, psalmist. If God uses these things to give to us, wouldn’t it make perfect sense that we should also use them to give back to God? How can you look at a sunset and not think of God as an artist? How can you read the word of God and not marvel at the imagery presented there?
The art of worship: Above idolatry
How can a painting or a statue offer worship to God? Are we bordering on idolatry? No. Not as long as whatever you do brings all the glory to God. God is spirit and it says to worship Him in spirit and in truth, as long as we are following His example and creating the things to bring Him glory. The things we make are for God the creator and not worshiping the creation.
At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt. — Psalm 106:19-21 (NIV)
What they made at Horeb did not bring any glory to God. They forgot God, and that is something that really upsets God.
They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass. — Psalm 106:20 (NIV)
Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. — Jeremiah 2:11 (NIV)
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. — Romans 1:22-23 (NIV)
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen. — Romans 1:25 (NIV)
Why would you want to create something that brings glory to a bull, which eats grass? That line always amuses me. It’s like God is pointing out how silly that would be.
The art of worship: Find your ministry
One of the problems with being creative and artistic and not being musical is that most church bodies will not know exactly what to do with you. They don’t understand you. Your pastor doesn’t understand you. The people on the hospitality committee who want you to donate your time don’t understand you.
I read a book once that said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard on the subject: “What most people don’t understand (is) that when you are a writer and you are sitting there staring out the window, you are working.”
The same can be applied for other people in the creative arts as well. Your ministry is your art. It is the gift God has given you to use to show His grace to the body of believers.
As Christians we are required to produce fruit.
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. — Matthew 7:16-20 (NIV)
At this point I could say something clever about fruit and the GLBT community, but we all know that our community is more gifted than most in the creative arts. Personally, I like to think it is a special compensation from God to bless us so we can bless others.
Just a final note about fruit. Fruit is something that grows and ripens. It is something that you have to use in a fairly timely manner. You either use it to feed yourself, your kids or your neighbors. If you don’t use it or give it away to someone else to use within a few days it will spoil. So think of your work as the fruit of your labor, and it will spoil if you don’t use it.