Have you ever witnessed a children’s choir at church? They are adorable. Children of all ages lined up, singing a song the choir director has taught them, often with motions, looking out and waving at mom and dad, singing at the top of their lungs. It is a good discipline to teach young children to focus on God. We all have heard the familiar proverb:
Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
– Prov 22.6
It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children, to instill in them good habits like having a daily quiet time and to teach them about God. It is the responsibility of God, however, to save their souls. Much confusion and debate is had about young children and their salvation. The early church required people to go through three years of observation and commitment before being allowed to join the Church, in order to test their sincerity, give them a chance to learn and understand the depths of the faith, and allow the reality to settle in their hearts that they might have to die for their faith. Children were not made members because of the weight of the commitment. On the other end of the spectrum, many people today – without Biblical support – think that children are not guilty of sin before a specific age when they can understand, an “Age of Accountability”. But yet they are suddenly able to make a profession of faith at five years of age and we take is as genuine – before we would have even considered them guilty. And many children make a profession of faith at a very young age, only to turn around and abandon the faith when they become independent.
Understanding a child’s faith is extremely difficult and that primarily because they are incapable of vocalizing what they think, feel and believe and because they have not yet started reasoning on their own. Critical thinking is a skill that develops later in life so a child who is told that God exists and that Jesus died for them will take it as fact in the same way they will receive any instruction from their parents. A child who is told that there is no God and no afterlife will likewise take whatever his parents tell him as fact. This unquestioning belief and faith is why we are told to have “childlike faith”.
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
– Mark 10.15
Children can often accept a fact as true, but it is impossible for us to know if they grasp the truth as more than fact. How do we gauge if someone is abiding in Christ? Jesus says that we will know someone by their fruit. How do you test the fruit of a six year old? This is an extremely difficult question that is best left in the hands of God. God knows their hearts. God causes the growth. But if we do not see the Holy Spirit directing a child’s attitude and actions, chances are high that they are not abiding in Christ.
But my thought today is farther reaching than evaluating another’s salvation, as no one has insight to another’s heart. It is about the actual music and performance by a children’s choir. It is the music and performance of any musician in the church.
Singing a praise song does not mean that you are praising Jesus.
If all you ever listen to in your home is Christian music, if your child sings in the children’s choir at church, all they will know to sing are Christian and/or praise songs. If you listen to KLOVE in the car and have Christian music playing in the background at work and a praise song gets stuck in your head, humming a melody on repeat is not praising Jesus. If you get up on stage and sing your heart out, but are focused on what people are thinking about your abilities, you are not praising Jesus. Praising Jesus is making much of Him. It is focusing on Him, it is cognitively recognizing a wonderful attribute of Him and proclaiming it because your heart believes it and wants to make it known. It is looking Jesus straight in the face and paying Him a compliment.
Worship involves praise, but it is a lifestyle. Worship is making much of Jesus, in everything that we do.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
– Col 3.17
Worship is doing chores as unto God, to His glory, in obedience and humility. Worship is doing our jobs unto the glory of God. Worship is knowing God, abiding in Him, understanding His heart and obeying Him, it is every aspect of our life that we submit to Him. It can and is done no matter what our circumstances. And praise is the vocalization of that attitude. Praise is making much of Jesus because that is what within us. Worship and praise begin in the heart.
So as you walk into a worship service next week, take a moment to focus your heart on God. Singing a song along with the choir or band does not mean that you are worshiping. Letting the words that are coming out of your mouth be the true expression of your heart is worship. Engaging in what the pastor says and letting it transform your heart is worship. Being kind to the glory of God is worship. Working, parenting, studying to the glory of God is worship.
But if you happen to hear your child humming a song that he heard at church, do not assume He is worshiping. Stop and engage him in conversation to see the attitude of his heart and motivation for singing what he is singing. And test well those whom you allow in leadership of worship. Allowing youth on a stage in leadership is dangerous, as many have not yet had their faith tested and established. If they are preforming for their own glory then God is mocked. Let us not take lightly the worship of Almighty God. And let us evaluate the attitudes of our heart in everything that we do.