In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, California banned congregational singing in churches, encouraging churches to hold these activities over the internet, with each person singing safely in their own home. While the Supreme Court blocked an additional ban on in-person meetings, in counties where the virus has hit the hardest it allowed the restrictions, including on singing, to stand.
I believe that many political leaders have overstepped their bounds since the COVID outbreak started, but that is not the scope or topic of this article. Rather than delving into the politics, I want to consider what worship is in a biblical sense, as some people have interpreted this move as “banning worship.”
This ban is, of course, a restriction on worship. Singing is certainly a part of worship, and the practice is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. For many Christians, the singing portion of the church service is when they feel most connected to God, and that can be a very powerful aspect of growing closer to God. Many also feel a strong connection to their fellow Christians while singing in unison.
Whether dramatic or calm, loud or quiet, singing is a part of worship for most modern churches, except, sadly, for churches in California, at the moment.
But does the restriction equate to “banning worship”?
No, because worship is so much more than singing and no one can ban true worship. Worship involves giving to God of our worldly goods. It involves praise and study of His Word. It involves fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42).
When discussing the proper location for worship, according to Jewish law, Jesus told the woman at the well that true worshippers would worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23).
Romans 12:1 states that our spiritual service of worship is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.
We worship God daily by living for Him. If the day ever comes when I might suffer persecution for professing His name, I pray that I will have the courage to worship by counting Him worthy of my life or my way of life if either or both are ever on the line.
In light of the recent restrictions of the freedoms that we were born to, if the “worst” were to happen, would you be ready to truly worship by laying everything down for Him? Many other Christians have since the church began, and continue to do so around the world, knowing that their futures are secure in Christ.