I’ve been taking my dog to an obedience class that includes an option for training service animals. Vests labeled “service animal” are readily available. Anyone can buy one and put it on their pet, even if they aren’t a certified service animal.
At our first class, the trainers told us that you can spot a fake service dog if they are sniffing around on their own. It doesn’t matter what the vest says: if the dog is sniffing without being given that command, they haven’t earned their certification. As they were explaining this, my dog was not only sniffing all the grass around him, but also making a meal out of it! I started laughing in my head because Jedi wouldn’t fool anyone for long, even in a vest. He does fine on sidewalks and roads, but once he is near plant life, it’s over. Even as I am writing this, he is on the other side of the yard barking at bricks. He is clearly not a service animal (nor are we pursuing that option).
Likewise, a Christian “imposter” will be easy to spot. If we don’t genuinely follow Him, we can fool those around us for a while but not forever. There are telltale signs that will be clear clues pointing to who we worship, whether it is God or an ideal or even ourselves. We might be able to fool others and even ourselves, but vv. 21–23 of this week’s passage are a sober reminder that God is looking for worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth, not just in Bible studies and in praise songs.
Being a true follower is something we can’t do on our own, but it is something we have to choose to be. We are both chosen by God and we choose to follow Him. He empowers us to follow Him when we choose to partner with Him in our sanctification. The songs this week are songs declaring and agreeing with His power and our partnership.
Whether your group decides to sing or not, there is something spiritually powerful about our voices sounding out into the atmosphere around us. If you can’t find songs that fit your group, try looking up scripture verses that declare who God says we are and read them aloud, adjusting the pronouns to be personal (I or we) as needed. For example, 1 Peter 2.9 can be read, We are a chosen people. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. You can assign a verse to each person to read aloud or you can give them time to ask God to bring a verse to mind and to share that out loud. This isn’t just about making us feel better about ourselves! This is intentionally agreeing with God about what He is saying over his own people.
Don’t rush it! After each truth, leave a few moments of silence for everyone to digest it. Sometimes we need to think about it—and allow the impact of it to work its way from our minds into our spirits (Romans 12.2), especially if it doesn’t feel particularly true at the moment. But God sees us through the blood of Jesus, and we are clothed in His righteousness! It doesn’t mean God is ignorant of our struggles, but neither does he define us by them.
The YouTube list contains videos with lyrics that are easily shareable during an online Life Group gathering, but the selection can be more limited because of licensing and copyright laws. YouTube also leans toward newer songs where publishers have been uploading new releases but haven’t created videos for older music. A lot of the older songs might not have official lyric videos (created by people who don’t own the rights), so we can’t officially share them here.
Spotify only has audio tracks (no lyrics), but the list is longer because licensing and copyright laws are easier to observe on this platform. What you use will depend on how comfortable your group is with engaging in worship in different ways (in other words, singing without words or simply engaging and agreeing while listening without singing along).
Please do not feel you have to use all or any of either list! These were inspired by one person’s study of the selected passage. You can choose one or two (probably all you will have time for in a weekly Life Group gathering) or you can create your own list! These are meant to be a springboard, a list of possibilities; this is not a prescription to be precisely followed.
You can also forgo music altogether in favor of another form of worship. A growing list of ideas is provided at the end of this post.
Beyond the Life Groups, feel free to enjoy the music throughout your week. Share the songs with anyone who might be interested. You may know someone who is going through something that is addressed in the lyrics and will be encouraged by a song.
PASSAGE: Matthew 7.13–23
Other ways to worship
Worship is our response to God. Music inspires our worship but—in and of itself—music is not worship. If finding a worship leader or managing the technology in the era of online group meetings proves to be more challenging, allow your group to worship in other ways!
Any activity that causes our hearts to acknowledge the reality of who God is and the reality of who we are in Him is considered worship, whether it is singing in a group or working alone in the kitchen à la Brother Lawrence. Below is a list of just a few possibilities, but don’t be limited by a list! Let Holy Spirit whisper ideas to you about how God wants to be worshipped by your group.
- A–Z: name something about God that you love beginning with each letter of the alphabet
- testimonies: share something that God has done over the past week and allow yourselves to marvel at his goodness
- found objects: ask group members to share something from around the house that reminds them of God
- personalize a passage: choose a Psalm and read it slowly, allowing everyone in the group to imagine themselves as the writer and to take time to apply that Psalmist’s experience to a situation in their own lives (Psalm 23 is a good starter one to try this activity)