There’s a line in a song that I used to listen to that says “this is the soundtrack for our movie, can you tell me when we get to the good part? I’ll play it for you.” I won’t go into an analysis of the lyrics of the song, but it did plant a thought in my head recently as I was thinking about worship.
We all like music. Whether or not you are a “music type,” chances are you enjoy the sound of music playing somewhere in the expanse of your day. Sometimes when I’m driving, cleaning up the kitchen, or folding laundry I like to listen to worship music. I like to have the words and sounds of praise going on around me and most of the time I sing along. Sounds like a good thing, right? You’d think so. But I noticed that I sometimes have the wrong motive in this seemingly very positive habit. Let me explain.
See, even though worship music is definitely good and can help me worship God, if I’m really honest with myself sometimes I am trying to save time by listening to worship music rather than trying to engage with God. What I mean is that I’m trying to in “get some God-time” in the midst of my busy schedule instead of taking time to worship. I’m hoping that my time listening to worship music will somehow work in my favor when I weigh my day and see how much time God got from me. Yeah, that’s pretty messed up.
Sometimes we all struggle thinking we can earn God’s favor. Without constant reminders of God’s grace, we start to believe that our good works help God love us more or earn us points with him. Instead of being with God for the sake of our relationship, we try to stack up our efforts and activities so that they give God more reasons to be pleased with us.
One of my bible professors says that “God doesn’t value efficiency like we do. He values growth.” I’d be silly to think that God wants things done in the fastest way possible (the people of Israel wandered for forty years!). And yet I try to get all of my prayer, study and worship done as quickly as possible so I can move on with my life.
What I need, and perhaps what we all need, is a change of perspective. We need to remember that everything we do is part of our worship to God. God doesn’t want a slot of time on your calendar, he wants your calendar. When Paul wrote “Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), I don’t think he meant whatever you do while you’re having your quiet time.
There is no substitute for an actual heart engagement with God, whether there is worship music happening or not. My heart of worship to God expressed through any action, whether singing, speaking, working or thinking, makes worship real. The song that’s playing, whether in a church service or on your stereo can no more guarantee worship than listening to Christmas music makes you Santa Claus.
Without my heart responding to God, which is actual, intentional and on purpose, I’m just listening to a soundtrack. This doesn’t mean you can’t listen to worship while you work, just don’t think you’re worshiping…unless you are. There is no such thing as “worship autopilot.”