There is a distinction between real worship and meaningless performance. In the area of worship music this can be a real problem. Just because a song is sung about Jesus does not automatically make its performance of the song an act of worship. So what exactly makes the performance pleasing to God?
As with any question, our authority is the Bible and this is what Jesus said:
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Worship must be in spirit and truth in order for God to accept it. Our approach should be on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work. It is the motivation of the worshipper that counts. You can sing a worship song but if you are not motivated to actually worship Jesus or God then it does not count as worship.
Again our reference is the Bible. In the Old Testament we find numerous accounts where the Jews practiced rituals associated with worship. Things like:
- Celebrating the Passover
- Offering Animal Sacrifice
- Holiday Feasts
Yet, despite their actions they were reprimanded by God because it was not done in the right attitude. This shows that your motivation counts while worshiping count. It not how you do it but why you do it.
Songs of any kind whether secular or spiritual bring forth emotion to the listener. Let’s not confuse emotions with worship.
The same song can bring out countless emotions in one person while being totally inappropriate to the feelings of someone else. Therefore, it completely depends on an individual’s state of mind.
I believe the intent of the lyrics and who is being praised in the music is important. When you put your heart and soul into it, otherwise the hymn is meaningless to the person singing it, or the the listener which would be the Lord.
Worship changes from a song to worship when you are singing for and to God and not about him. The focus of our worship is what makes it either meaningful or not.