So, who is serving who in a “church service?” Is God serving His people when they gather, or are His people to be serving God when they gather? Certainly, in our consumerist culture we are most naturally wired to thinking we should be served. And to be sure, we are ministered to by God on a Sunday morning as He visits us with His presence when we come together as a living temple of God by His Spirit. We are served by God as He speaks to us through His preached word. But as I chew a bit on Psalm 100 this morning, I’m reminded that we also get to serve God as His people when we gather. We do that with worship work.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! now that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
(Psalm 100:1-3 ESV)
I think the songwriter is repeating the same thing three times in three different ways.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD = Serve the LORD with gladness = Come into His presence with singing!
When His people gather — those He has made in His own image and redeemed to be His own special possession — they are to make a joyful noise to the LORD. When His sheep come together as a flock, they are to serve the Great Shepherd with gladness and singing in His presence.
It’s service, or work, we can all render to God. And, if I can use the term, it’s kind of a “gimme.”
That portion of our church gatherings where we are called to sing together — regardless of what type of music or how many songs we sing — is a time presented to us when we can serve together. Where we can labor for the Lord as a body. No special gifting or talents required. Sure, if you can sing in key or keep a beat, bonus! But more than once I have been beside a dear saint who embraces “making a joyful noise” even though they know they can’t carry a tune. But hey, they’re not singing to me, they’re serving their Savior.
Full disclosure: I’m naturally a music guy so I am going to have a natural bias towards the music opportunity we have when we gather as a congregation. But Psalm 100 is a supernatural lyric, it’s God-breathed. So, when gathered in His presence, shouldn’t His people have a supernatural bias towards serving Him in song? I’m thinking.
Worship in song shouldn’t be that part of the “church service” that we endure because we’re not “into the music” and so it’s not serving me very well. Nor should it be regarded as just the “prelims” before the “main event” of being fed from the pulpit and so, attendance and participation is optional.
No, when we get a chance to sing as a church, we should embrace the chance to sing as a church. We should enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. With gusto, we should give thanks to Him and bless His name (Ps. 100:4).
We should serve Him. For He is worthy of church service.
For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalm 100:5 ESV)
Worship work. Let’s do it!
Because of grace. For His glory.