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God’s Heart for Unity

From the Worship Leader series.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity (Psalm 133:1).

Copyright Stan Myers. Used with permission.

When my teenage daughter walks out the door, and I say, “Drive safely” she looks at me and says, “Absolutely, Dad.” I reassure myself that I have really communicated. I assume she understands “Drive safely,” the way I do: observe the laws, watch out for pedestrians, pay attention to the speed limit, etc. What she really understands when I say “Drive safely” is more like this: “As long as you bring the car home in one piece, then all existing land speed records are up for grabs.”

When we throw around terms like “worship” and “unity” we often think we are communicating. The problem is, we often have divergent interpretations and understandings of those terms.

When we sing the familiar chorus:

I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you
O my soul, rejoice
Take joy my King
In what you hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet
Sound in your ear

we assume that what we are singing must be a sweet, sweet sound to His ear. After all, the band is tight, our arms are raised. The angels must be taking the night off just to listen.

But truthfully, not everything we sing and communicate, no matter how exhilarating the experience, or how enthusiastic the band, is a sweet sound in God’s ear. You can fool all of the people some of the time—but you cannot fool God any of the time.

He looks past the words, raised arms, the music, and sees the heart. Isaiah 29:13: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'”

We always run the risk of letting our worship fall into that category. We have the audacity to expect that we can offer something that is going to impress God, or catch His ear.

So when I say “true worship” or “acceptable worship” I’m working from the understanding that worship has nothing to do with any offering or sacrifices we can give to God. Worship is not God responding to our sacrifices; it is our response to His.

But what do I mean when I say “unity”? It is an important concept for worship leaders who are called to lead people to intimate communion with God. In John chapter 17, in His prayer for the disciples, He prays that they might be one not in some monotonous cookie-cutter fashion but “as We are One.” The Trinity has unity and diversity. One nature, yet three unique personalities. God has His heart set on this kind of unity for His church.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2001

About the Author: Gary Best is the Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches, Canada.

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