One of the fundamental characteristics of God’s people emphasised in scripture is unity. The illustration of every believer being a member of the body of Christ is perhaps the best illustration of God’s intention for unity amongst His people (1 Cor 12:12-27). Unity is associated with goodness, pleasantness, glory, perfection, faith, peace, maturity, and love:
- How good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell together in unity (Psa 133:1)
- Jesus gives us the glory His Father gave Him so that we can be one, Jesus in us the Father in Him, so that we can be perfected in unity (Jhn 17:22-23)
- Be diligent to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace (Eph 4:3)
- Christians are to be equipped for service for the building up of the body of Christ until we attain to the unity of the faith, until we reach maturity (Eph 4:12-13)
- Above all these (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness) put on love which is the perfect bond of unity (Col 3:13-14)
- The Lord’s Prayer is phrased in the plural, a corporate prayer which speaks of unity and agreement, i.e. “Our Father… …give us this day our daily bread… …forgive us… …as we forgive… …lead us not… …but deliver us…” (Mat 6:9-13)
Worship in the form of music, song, and dance demonstrates one of the greatest examples of unity found throughout scripture, this worship is often seen in response to God’s deliverance and provision as well an appeal to God for deliverance.
- When God parted the Red Sea and delivered Israel from Egypt, destroying Pharaoh’s army in the process the response from Israel was to sing a song of thanksgiving to God. The song exalts God, it recounts His miraculous deliverance, and speaks of His future provision. This is the first song recorded in scripture, Israel were not commanded by God to sing it, the song arose from God’s people in response to His gracious provision of salvation. (Exo 15:1-21)
- The song of Deborah and Barak was sung in response to God’s deliverance of His people (Jdg 5:1-31)
- Numerous Psalms were written about God’s deliverance and provision (E.g. Psa 18, 59, 126)
- David appointed Levites to lead worship before God, to praise God for His lovingkindness, forgiveness, deliverance, and provision. It is interesting to note this office was not commanded by God but instituted by David – a worshipper, a man after God’s own heart (1 Ch 6:31-32; 1 Ch 16:1-42; Neh 12:46)
- At the dedication of the re-built wall of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah (when Israel had been set free from their Babylonian captivity) Levites were brought in to lead worship, to celebrate with gladness, to sing songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving, with them all Israel including women and children rejoiced. (Neh 12:27-47)
- The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches at Ephesus and Colossae encouraging them to speak, teach, and admonish each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness and making melody with their hearts to the Lord (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)
- Paul and Silas while in prison sang hymns of praise to God, subsequently God delivered them from prison and salvation came to the household of the jailer. It is also interesting to note that the chains fell off not only Paul and Silas but all of those held captive in prison. (Acts 16:25 – 34)
- Singing songs of worship and praise are a key feature of the heavenly throne room in the book of revelation (Rev 5:9, 14:3, 15:3)
Jesus taught a key principle relating to the power of unity:
- If two or more agree on anything and ask it shall be done for them by My Father who is in Heaven for if two or more are gathered together in My name I am there (Mat 18:19-20)
Jesus also taught that the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and truth (Jhn 4:23). While worship extends beyond song, music, and dance, it certainly includes these elements.
Given the above concepts found in scripture, the significance of a body of believers worshiping God in unity cannot be understated. Through corporately singing songs of praise and worship, a number of inter-related principles are realised:
- Two or more people are gathered together in the name of Jesus
- The truth about God is proclaimed (i.e. lyrics emphasise biblical truth)
- The truth about God is agreed upon by many (i.e. agreement with lyrical truth is evidenced through participation in worship)
Accordingly, when songs are focused on thanking God, petitioning Him for breakthrough, crying out for revival, and/or proclaiming His unending love which is able to overcome any and every situation, and when these songs are understood, believed, and sung in unity by a body of believers the impact has the potential to be world changing.
Loving God and Others
One of the main goals of the Christian experience is to mature in love to a place of unity with fellow believers. This can lead to an environment where the two greatest commandments (to love God, and to our neighbours) are realised. We can express our love of God through personally singing songs of praise and worship. We can also express our love for our neighbours (those around us) through electing to sing these songs of praise and worship together in harmony and in unity with other believers. We sing songs of the same truth in the same spirit to God in unity with our neighbours. While loving God and loving others can be realised through countless unique expressions, acts of service, and ministries – praise and worship is positioned as a beautiful vehicle where both expressions of love can come together and overflow.
A Common Confession
Ultimately, praise and worship can be so much more than a musical interlude that precedes a sermon, when understood and embraced it can be a powerful mechanism that demonstrates the unity that exists amongst a body of believers as they proclaim songs of thankfulness to their Lord and Saviour. More than this, while a sermon is received/heard by a group of believers, a song of praise and worship is given/proclaimed by a group of believers. Hearing a sermon receives truth, singing praise and worship confesses truth. With the heart we believe and with the mouth we confess (Rom 10:10). Essentially, praise and worship expressed through a united body of believers demonstrates that the Word of truth has been received (Jas 1:21) and also shows the work of the Spirit flowing out of the individual. It takes faith in the truth of the gospel to bring an individual to a place where they yearn for an opportunity to worship their God and Saviour in spirit and truth and in unity with other believers.
Finally, The Lord’s Prayer by Hillsong Worship is just an awesome song, enjoy!