Worship Wars and Hymnal Hostilities 

Will you try and imagine with me what it must have been like, over there in Jerusalem when Jesus sat around with His disciples in the upper room?

Picture the scene. The boys had everything in place for them to celebrate the Passover with Jesus, the Passover Lamb. Midway through the night Judas Iscariot puts on his jacket and leaves to collect his thirty pieces of silver.

The rest have the awesome experience of hearing the Lamb of God explain the Passover like never before. And after their time of partaking and reflection, they go with Jesus to Gethsemane.

But BEFORE they left the upper room, they did something that, in today’s church world, has been known to start a church worship war.

They sang a hymn.

“Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30 NLT)

Can you imagine what would have happened if it would have taken place in your church? Or how about the church down the road?

They sang a hymn; an ode of worship!

They sang with Jesus, and Jesus sang with them. 

And they sang a hymn. Incredible!

You know, earlier that evening the disciples argued about the rank and file of the kingdom; who would be the chief of staff, etc. They also discussed, probably with an edge to their voices, with each other and Jesus, the impossibility of them ever betraying their Master.

But one thing they DIDN’T do, or at least it wasn’t recorded if they did. They didn’t fuss about the song service!

So why do modern “saints” feel such a need to wage worship wars and hold hostilities toward hymns?

Or maybe you LOVE HYMNS, but hate the new songs. And you’d have no problem in church if the worship leaders would quit all their tomfoolery, stop singing all the new songs that have only ten words but are sung for at least ten minutes, dig out the song books and sing such godly, anointed songs as “Victory In Jesus”.

Again, let your imagination travel back to the days of Jehoshaphat and the children of Judah. Remember the story?

There they were, minding their own business, following God’s commandments and everything, when a massive, multinational force came against them. Scared? You bet! But though they were frightened, they still had enough sense to do the right thing.

They called upon their God. 

And He answered.

He told them they didn’t need to fight, but instead, to march out to see the victory God would bring them as they stood still and saw the salvation of the Lord.

Their response? Two things.

1. They worshipped the Lord by bowing their faces to the ground, and praised Him by shouting VERY LOUD.

“Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord . Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord , the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.” (2 Chronicles 20:18-19 NLT)

The account mentions nothing of whether they sang anything or not, but it does say they praised and worshipped.

2. They followed the advice of their LEADER, who said, in essence: “Today we’re going to praise God, not with a song from our songbooks (we left them back home), but with a new song. We’ll sing it over and over again, so if you don’t catch it on the first go around, you will by the time we finish. It goes like this, ‘Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever!'”

“So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever.'” (2 Chronicles 20:20-21 NKJV)

Do you know what happened next? No, they didn’t fuss about having to sing a new song! They followed their leader and sang the song of the Lord. 

And GOD dismantled the massive army that, just the day before, had threatened their very existence.

“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” (2 Chronicles 20:22-23 NKJV)

I really believe it’s time to quit having our worship wars and hymnal hostilities and focus on worshipping Jesus and fighting HIS battles; for the souls of men and women.

Worship is so powerful, and the devil knows it all too well. That’s why he likes to get us to focus on the mechanics of worship rather than the Master Himself.

As a pastor and a worship leader, I have found there are times when ONLY a certain hymn (an old one, at that) sung with faith and worship will break the bonds of the evil one and set the prisoners free.

Other times, it’s the spontaneous, Spirit inspired melody and words never thought of before that releases Heaven’s power.

And yes, many times the Lord just wants to hear us sing and praise, and allows us the joy of “picking the songs”. 

But brethren, it’s definitely nothing to fight about. 

Whether you prefer old hymns or new, easy to sing tunes, the questions should be “Am I worshipping God with all my heart? Is the song I’m singing a true expression of my heart? Would He prefer to hear something else?”

Jesus likes hymns (some of them, not all of them), and He likes choruses, or “new songs” (again, some but not all).

And since He should be the focus of our worship, how about we stop with the worship wars and hymnal hostilities?

Good. I thought you’d agree.