Myself and the other elders at my church have been doing some Q&A at the end of our services during our current series which is on why we do what we do. My pastor briefly touched on the discomfort brought through the preaching and music both in content and sometimes application. On that point we received a great question.
“Are you saying that we should be uncomfortable during worship?”
My answer: Great comfort should come in worship through extremely uncomfortable means. The gospel is full of these seemingly paradoxical situations. Hope through hopelessness. joy through despair, wholeness through brokeness, life through death and comfort through discomfort.
I’m primarily speaking of the “what” and not the “how”, in other words, what we are singing should be uncomfortable but not necessarily the how we’re singing it. Though I would argue the how should support the what, it starts to rely a lot on preference so there’s no point in pressing that issue too much. I don’t like the cheery makeover every worship song gets regardless of content just so people can sound happy, but that’s just me.
If we’re singing the gospel story there are going to be many uncomfortable themes, of course the death of Jesus being the central one. I’m reminded of the lyric from Stuart Townend’s How Deep the Father’s Love For Us
Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon his shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
That is some beautiful truth that brings us hope and comfort, but man is it difficult. If you can comfortably sing about your sin holding Jesus on the cross, well then I’m not sure the weight of sin and miracle of grace through God sending his Son to die has been rightly or deeply understood.
We have eternal comfort in Jesus, but it comes with a cost of much discomfort to ourselves. Our worship should reflect that.