“Christians don’t tell lies – they just go to church and sing them.” – A. W. Tozer
We walk into church every Sunday and lie to God. In fact, we blatantly lie to Him over and over again, sometimes not even knowing what we are saying.
It’s harsh, but more often than not it’s the sad truth.
The songs that we sing in a weekly time of worship are powerful, challenging mindsets and provoking introspection, and sometimes tears. But there is still danger in this simplest of actions: “You can have it all”, we sing, countless times over. But in our hearts there is still selfishness. There is still sovereignty of self. No way are we really going to let God have it all.
About a month ago I remarked during the worship debrief that it was really nice to hear the entire congregation singing You can have it all together. A thought came to me and I added, “I hope they meant it.”
Do we mean it? Maybe in the moment, with the music playing and everyone singing the same thing in unison. But the moment service ends, our actions cry otherwise. We go back to living for ourselves, forgetting all the lines we just sang. And then it’s reduced to nothing but a nice tune. Well, until the next week, when it’s sung again. And the next week.
Obviously this isn’t something done intentionally, but it happens nonetheless. So how can it be different?
The first step is to understand the meaning of the words we sing. This doesn’t have to be a huge in-depth literary analysis. A few examples: it can be something as simple as taking a moment to ask: Okay. So what does it mean for God to have it all? Am I really sincere in saying that God can have every part of my world?
Do I really want God to let me walk upon the waters wherever he calls? Would I really be ready for that?
Have I really given God my heart and soul? Is it true that I live for Him alone?
These are scary questions to ask.
Sometimes it feels easier to just sing a nice tune and space out during worship.
But these realisations shouldn’t shame us; rather, they should help clear a path for liberation.
Once we realise what the words we are singing truly mean, and whether our own hearts are in sync with the song’s message, we can ask further introspective questions.
What is currently holding me back from following through with what I am singing?
What can I change in my own life so that next time I can sing with all sincerity?
Something that I personally feel is that it is okay to NOT sing. This parallels with refraining from taking communion if you do not truly understand its significance. I believe that if I am not yet ready to identify with certain lyrics, it is perfectly acceptable to refrain from singing and instead search my heart to find out what is restraining me.
But also, if I know deep down that I don’t feel it on that day, I can make a decision to sing it into reality. For our words have power, and when we utter declarations of God’s promises, it is part of the exercise of faith. (Likewise, this applies in the area of uttering words of agreement with what is not from God. Let’s be mindful of what we give power to!)
Worship in song is one of the most powerful ways to commune with God, but it’s so important to mean what we are saying, thus speaking out declarations of life and truth into the spiritual atmosphere. If we can all truly believe and follow through with what we sing in church, the seeds for revival will flourish into a full-blown wildfire that much sooner.