May We Have A Little More Death With Our Worship, Please?

Posted by Tim Chaddick on 11 November 2013

Life is full of paradox. You don’t need some American preacher like me reminding worship leaders like you about that. But it’s true. We see it in social media accounts that airbrush out the blemishes - in the process exposing our vanity, in convenience foods that are full of health-sapping chemicals and in lifestyle gurus who end up behind bars. 

But just because something’s a paradox doesn’t automatically make it bad for us. Scripture is full of examples of freedom being found in service, of hope coming through despair and pain - as CS Lewis reminds us - acting as God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. 

And here we uncover one of the biggest - and best - paradoxes of all; that if we are to truly live, we must to some degree learn to die. 

Shortly after his cancer diagnosis, yet six years before his eventual death, Steve Jobs addressed students graduating from Stamford University. You’ve probably heard these words already, but they’re worth another look:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

What is true for entrepreneurs is also true for worship leaders. Remembering the reality of death can do wonders for your response to expectations, pride and fear. And we’re not just talking about the death of Jesus here - although, of course, that’s part of the single greatest, most transformative death of all.

Take a look at the Bible’s hymnal and you’ll see the ways in which an awareness of death plays an important role. There are songs that give voice to external expectations (Psalms 31, 33, 84, 103), pride (Psalms 10, 40, 50, 131) and fear (Psalms 16, 23, 56, 112). If we’re looking for songs about embarrassment and failure need we go further than David’s death-sparked confession in Psalm 51? Do our songs reflect such a range? 

Death worship (OK, maybe that’s not quite the right name for it...) can offer us even more than lament. It can lead us to a brighter, bolder faith entirely. If Jesus has taken care of your death, will He not take care of your life? If He’s taking care of the worst fear, what makes you think He will not take care of you now? If we gain from Him the proper perspective of faith, won’t injustice and death fall into their proper - diminished - place?

How’s that for a call to worship?

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