In Greek and Roman mythology men are introduced to a particularly dangerous creature, called a siren. In the epic poem entitled ‘The Odyssey”, the siren is a feminine and sensual being, part human part animal, which sings to passing ships. Their purpose is not to entertain, but lead men away from the right path and directly into destruction. Their song promises a short cut to what the person hearing the song truly wants, yet will never attain if they follow the hypnotizing singing.
I was reminded of this mythology last week, when yet another “worship leader”, in a very public way, announced they are turning from the faith once delivered to the saints. In the person’s Facebook post to the whole world they spewed out the standard lines of criticism concerning suffering, science and the “if God is good” stuff, to justify his choice.
The person I just mentioned (a portion of which can be read in my last blog click to read HERE), as well as other high-profile “worship leaders”, who have fallen away over the last 35 years, like the sirens of mythology are not what they seem. They sing concerning their love for Jesus, drawing others into their choruses and verses, only to lead others into confusion in the end.
Knowing we can all be fooled ought to cause us some concern, when considering the “worship music” genre of our generation. In the first place, it is for the large part “I” centered, rather than “Christ” centered. In addition, much of today’s worship music is repetitive and sensual, not spiritual. Despite the “mile wide and inch deep” nature of “worship music”, it is making money for someone to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Many continue to think this music is bringing us closer to God, while it may actually be leading us further away from true worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the eternal word of God. This is essentially the beginning of a slippery slope that can lead to falling away from our faith in Christ and the faith once delivered to the saints.
Before someone’s head explodes at my assertion, remember I am a musician and have been leading the congregations in praise toward God for most of my 16 years of pastoral ministry. Therefore, I have a perspective from inside that is beneficial. This perspective must begin with examining an error in our terminology.
In the first place, to call one a “worship leader” or music which exults God “worship music”, are what are called “misnomers”. This simply means the phrases are wrong and inaccurate designations, labels, or terms. What do I mean? Well “worship” as defined by the Bible is so much more than singing. Let us consider Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman who met at the well.
John 4:19-24 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Interestingly, when looking into the Greek word used for worship, it gives a word picture that is more an attitude of heart, than a literal performance. It means to prostrate one’s self on the ground, with knees and forehead on the ground. This is the position of a servant or slave in the presence of their master. The woman was declaring that her ancestors commanded this action and attitude toward God where she lived, in the north of Israel, while the Jews at the Temple in Jerusalem. Why the dispute?
When the Kingdom of Israel split after Solomon died, the apostate north sacrificed in Samaria and the Jews in Jerusalem. The point is the central act of either Samaritan or Jewish worship was sacrifice to God, which was for the sake of atonement. In fact, after the captivity when the Jews returned to the land and before they even laid the foundation for the new Temple, they built an alter and sacrificed for atonement for sins with the blood of bulls and sheep (Ezra 3:1-6).
The act of worship Jesus is referring to in John 4:21-24, is not that of singing, but of living sacrifice. This is what the word of God calls us to in Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the God, which is your reasonable service (Your spiritual act of worship). And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
When considering this in light of Jesus’ declaration that God’s true worshiper will worship Him in Spirit and in truth, not at a particular location, but at all times and anywhere; we can surmise that worship is to surrender your life to the will of God, at all times and in all places. This is life lived with a heart in submission to God, as servant humbly waiting for the next direction, reverence express in true humility.
Therefore, true worship is to deny oneself for the sake of the call of Christ, even when indulging is not necessarily sinful—true worship is to choose God’s way of thinking over our own—true worship is choose to pray, meditate on His word, or intentionally love my neighbor, when I have “free time”—true worship is to turn the other cheek and love my enemy, when he seeks to discredit or destroy me—true worship is to cheerfully give from my abundance and lack, to my brothers and sisters in Christ, who are in need—true worship is to stand firm in the faith once delivered to the saints, when my life, job or relationships are at risk—true worship is to sing His praise, when I am hurting in every area of my human frame.
A good diagnostic of the “worship music” being produced is does it cause me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus into the valley of the shadow of death, where I know His presence; or is it simply there to serve as an affirmation of what I profess with my mouth concerning what I believe? The latter is a dangerous tool to use indeed, as Jesus defines those in that practice as hypocrites and those who never knew Him (Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 7:6-8).
Be careful saints of God, we can become just like Israel as described in Amos 6:3-6
Amos 6:3-6 3 Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; 4 Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; 5 Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; 6 Who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
As Americans we ought to admit that we love to be entertained and as Christians we seek to find appropriate entertainment acceptable to our practice of faith. Let’s also admit that entertainment is not a biblical word. The “worship music” produced today is largely idle songs, based on thin threaded metaphor created more to entertain us or serve as background noise.
Reject that which has little or no connection to God’s word. Be a worshiper of God, walking out your obedience and having a heart of praise that comes from explosive joy from the Holy Spirit, being a person who obeys the leading of the Holy Spirit. (I Peter 1:6-10).
Challenge yourself dear saint of God, to reject the call to “worship” that is being sounded today. If you do not, you will be pulled into the sirens call to “worship” that leads to apostasy. How does a person know if they are hooked?
Remember, the need for satisfaction drives addiction. When a person uses an addictive substance, the pleasure, in subsequent use, diminishes with the same dose. This means a person needs more of the substance and more frequently to feel the same pleasure.
In relation to praise of Jesus Christ, we understand that because of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, all praise or any action of living sacrifice worship originates in our inward man; where our spirit is in union with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if we can’t be happy, or pray, or have courage to witness, or perseverance to read the word of God, without outside stimulus, such as the right music, we are orientated wrongly.
Ours is a day of 24 hour access to “worship music”. In this environment we have all but lost the heart of all true praise: God’s word resonating in our life, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is in this lost operation, where in all times, seasons, trials and tribulation, we can meet with Christ; then His word enlivened by the Spirit, becomes our thoughts, power and our movements. This is the well of joy that is missing, which must be recovered, or we will move further toward apostasy as a body of Christians in America.
The reason there is such a market for “worship music” that does not resonate with the Holy Spirit inside of us, is have moved further from our First love Jesus. therefore we need these thinly written and heartless productions, in order to “feel” godly, or faith filled or close to God. Refuse this sirens call, or we may end up like the Holy Spirit describes in II Timothy 3:5-7
2 Timothy 3:5-7 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
In my next post we will look at how this “worship music” error has hurt our Sunday morning gatherings.
Thank you brother for the powerful words of warning to Christians today. We need to sing the words of the hymn writers of old and songs like Keith Green’s “No Compromise”. His words are convicting. We need songs that bring us to our knees and humble us before our Glorious Savior.