The Beauty of Corporate Worship
When I first accepted the position of Worship Pastor at Center Church, my dad sent me a page from Paul David Tripp’s daily devotional book, New Morning Mercies. The topic was corporate worship. In the devotional from June 8, Tripp writes that “Corporate worship is designed to confront you with the glory of the grace of Jesus so you won’t look for life, help, and hope elsewhere.”
Why Do We Sing?
In my sermon from a week ago, I touched on how corporate worship is designed to do exactly what Tripp writes about in his devotional. I’ll come back to this. But more specifically, I want to begin with answering the question of "why do we sing?" Primarily (though not extensively), we sing in corporate worship to 1) proclaim the “good news” of the Gospel and 2) encourage the saints.
Christianity is the only religion that brings with it good news: a new Gospel to proclaim, here to save us from sin and death. We have this to offer to our worldly culture of self-absorption and works-based righteousness. In a world that only focuses on what you can obtain and conquer for our earthly “kingdoms,” we sing of an eternal and everlasting Kingdom. Thus, we preach and sing every Sunday. Secondly, we worship corporately to encourage the saints, the called-out ones, God’s elect. We too are prone to forget the Gospel, or as one of my dear friends calls it, “Gospel amnesia.” Therefore, we sing in corporate worship in order to “re-orient our hearts on Jesus,” an act of abiding in Him, preaching to ourselves the truth that He is beautiful and worthy of our worship. As Tripp puts, this reminds our hearts that we don’t have to look for life, help, and hope elsewhere in this fallen world.
Primarily, when you worship, when you sing, your heart is of utmost importance. I believe that Scripture teaches us that unless our hearts are obediently near to Him (Mark 7:5-8) and unless our hearts actually believe what we are singing (John 4:21-24), then we are worshiping in vain. Our commandment from God as believers is to worship in spirit and in truth, and to worship with hearts that repentantly adore our Precious Savior. This is the posture we are to have when we sing, every Sunday morning. But we can also worship Him with thanksgiving and gratitude that He meets us in our times of disobedience and unbelief with more than enough grace to cover us. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Mark 9:23-24).
Delighting in God
Finally, we ultimately worship corporately to express our enjoyment and delight in God. In corporate worship, we acknowledge both our sin and His atoning work on the Cross. Thus we worship from the Cross, not to it. Because of the greatest gift on earth - this daily relationship with our Savior - we now get to behold His beauty and glorious grace. Corporate worship reminds us that we have all we need in Jesus Christ. As the old hymn teaches us, “What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” May we sing this truth with loud voices, expectant hearts, and hands held high to the One who is worthy.