Last week, my wife and I were fortunate to see Hillsong Worship live in concert in Miami, Florida. To be honest — and, perhaps, to your surprise — it was my first concert of this type that I’ve ever attended. I have seen world-class symphony orchestras in various concert halls from Pittsburgh to West Palm Beach, but until last Saturday, I had never seen a praise band, or any band for that matter, live. Naturally, I was enthusiastic to not only experience the performance and production of a live show, but also to experience that with, perhaps, my favorite group making worship records right now, that being Hillsong Worship.
Now to some, Hillsong represents no small out of concern and criticism within Christendom as a whole. Some, even, associate the church with blatant heresy. Like any megachurch organization, they, no doubt, haven’t done themselves any favors with some suspect behavior and public missteps. And though I, myself, have my qualms with some of Hillsong’s and Brian Houston’s theology, I am not here today to plunge into those waters.
I’m simply here to tell you that regardless what you think of them, when words like these are being sung, worship happens.
Find hope when all the world seems lost
Behold the triumph of the cross
His power Has trampled death and grave
Our life found in His name
The greatest name of all
Those lines come from their song, “No Other Name,” an anthem with which I was thrilled to be reintroduced to that night. I found myself singing along to nearly every strain they put forth, and I found myself worshiping.
One thing I’ve learned is the necessity to distinguish between “concert” and “church” when it comes to worship music. Having the expectations of a Hillsong concert when one walks across the threshold of a church building sets one up for disappointment and disgruntlement, both of which are detrimental to the local church. Those expectations aren’t realistic, neither, I would say, are they biblical. However, that doesn’t negate the benefits and splendor of a concert, one in which thousands of strangers are gathered together under roof to champion one name: Jesus!
That evening, my wife and I were captivated by the choruses that blared through that hall. We were uplifted by the exceptionally Christological words that rang in our ears and pierced our hearts. And we found ourselves worshiping. I found myself smiling by the beauty of it all. A part of me expects heaven to be a little like this. A place where “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” will worship loud and strong and forever with one voice.1 And, no, I highly doubt we’ll be singing “Oceans,” or “Who You Say I Am,” or any other Hillsong anthem for that matter.
But we will be singing, and singing in unison a far greater song.
“They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ After this I looked, and there was All the angels stood around the throne, and along with the elders and the four living creatures they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’” (Rev. 7:9-12)