Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. - COLOSSIANS 3:16
I was pastor of First Baptist Church, Colombia, South Carolina, where, on the eve of the Civil War, the South voted to secede from the Union. There was a huge balcony where the slaves gathered, full every Sunday, as was the lower floor, where white people assembled. The main floor would be crowded because the whites came to hear the slaves sing.
Ultimately the slaves decided to leave that church to form their own. The white members begged the slaves to stay. They didn’t want to do without their songs of praise. But the slaves did go, and for many years the atmosphere of the worship services was dead.
Many slaves were people of great faith because they learned to trust God for every morsel. Human masters sometimes crushed them with tyranny, but the singing slaves knew they had a Lord who was their brother and who had come to “preach deliverance to the captives.” (LUKE 4:18) Their songs were not the litany of ritual but the gratitude of a thankful heart.
Is your worship the overflow of thankfulness or religious ritual?