Congregational Worship: The Heart of the Matter
How do we know if our congregational worship through music is bringing joy to the Lord? The heart of the issue in worship is the heart. This theme is constant throughout Scripture.
In the Law of Moses, Israel was instructed, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart…” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Unfortunately, this proved to be an impossible task for Israel and for us. Jeremiah described the dilemma, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick…” (Jeremiah 17:9). The idea conveyed by the prophet is deliberate duplicity. This is bad news. Not only are we born diseased, but our natural inclination is to choose to be deceitful.
With these things in mind, how is it possible to have a pure heart in worship of the Lord? Ezekiel foretold the answer to this question, “…I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart…I will put My Spirit within you…” (Ezekiel 36:24-27). The Lord, who breathed life into the heart of mankind at creation, had a plan to redeem us from the plague of sin!
During the ministry of Jesus, a man of the Pharisees came to the Lord in the dark of night seeking answers. Jesus told him, “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…you must be born again” (John 3:5-7). Others questioned Jesus feeling threatened by his authority. In the face of their contrarian attitude, Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; They worship me in vain…” (Matthew 15:1-9).
As water reflects the face, the heart reflects the real person (Proverbs 27:19). When we come together to worship, the issue of first importance is the state of our hearts. Have we professed Christ as Lord, confessed our sin to him, and received the forgiveness he offered through his death on the cross? Have we been born again by the Spirit of Christ? Are we living in the freedom provided through the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Steps to take as we seek to enjoy the Lord in worship (James 4:7-10):
1. We submit our hearts to the Lord.
2. Christ surrendered his all to the Father on the cross.
3. We draw near to the Lord. He promises to draw near to us.
4. We confess and mourn our double-mindedness to the Lord and others. He provides forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross.
5. In humility, we confess total reliance upon the Lord for a pure heart. He will lift us up; Just as Christ rose from the dead, we have new life in him.