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How can we all come together regardless of where we are, how we feel, and what God is doing in our lives? Can we truly be unified?

Before diving in, we must consider why unity is so important. When we feel the tension of difference with others, our default setting is to separate ourselves. Unfortunately, this is also the exact place where temptation and sin find us – when we are by ourselves, siloed and away from community, not only with each other but with God. (Genesis 3)

And Jesus knows this about us, making His prayer in John 27 much more important.

Our unity is how the world will know that God is who He says He is. We are a family. We are the church.    

And the church is a weird place for many reasons. We gather every week, we get some coffee, and we sit down. We usually sit in the same seat or row each week. We listen to a spiritually-led Ted Talk. And before we do that, what do we do? We sing.

And we don’t sing individually or unilaterally. We sing together. There are very few places in our lives where we gather as a group in a large room and sing the same song simultaneously.

Church is the only place where the understanding is that when we enter, we’re all going to sing the same songs together, and more than singing them to ourselves, we’re singing them to someone. So why do we do this?

Psalm 96
1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day.
3 Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come into His courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of His[a] holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.

This is a holistic view of worship and why we do it. But more than that, we’ll see how worship provides unity in 4 different ways.

1. A New Song

The phrase “Sing to the Lord a new song” happens 9 times in scripture. And when we hear that, we take it literally. So we think there should be new compositions and tunes all the time. And while that’s good, there’s a better way to think of this idea of a “new song.” It’s in reference and response to experiencing God in a new way.

A new song can be the same melody with a new understanding of His love, character, grace, and mercy.

It’s in the approach and posture of our hearts. And that newness allows us to approach our worship in newness as well. And so, as we worship, the first thing worship unifies us to is God to His goodness, mercy, grace, provision, holiness, and worth. Worship unites us with God, and we do so with a new song, heart, and approach.  

2. Declaring The Gospel

In verse 1, we’re invited to worship God and be unified in Him. But in verses 2-4, the invitation is to declare and proclaim. The Hebrew word here is Euangelizo, which means evangelize, evangelical, or to tell the good news. To announce it.

Worship is a moment of declaration where we say what’s true, a singing or announcement of what’s true.

Verse 4 says, “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all Gods.” Song is a great way of sharing the good news about the specific God we worship. People should hear the songs sung by followers of Jesus and walk away with a clear vision of who we are singing to and why we’re singing to Him.

And so, the next aspect of what worship unifies us to is this big connection to the truth of who God has revealed Himself to be. And what is the revelation of truth? It’s the Gospel. Worship unifies us to the Gospel, to the declaration that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the World (1 John 4:14).

Use words to preach the gospel everyday - declare it and proclaim it. The call here is to tell those around us the good news of Jesus Christ.    

3. Unity to Family

In verses 7-10, who is called to do this, to sing a new song and proclaim it?

Families of nations. Why is the word families here? Why couldn’t it just say nations? Why families of nations?

The word family here is mishpakhah. In the Old Testament, there are nations, which is about a political entity. There are peoples, which is about ethnic identity. So our mishpakhah is the equivalent of our last names in our culture.

David is trying to emphasize something here. This is a mass gathering of humanity in this picture, but the emphasis is on all the families. It’s on the diversity of this massive collection of humanity.

There’s only one thing that can unify us all: Worship.

There is unity of our families that we experience in corporate worship. However, we bring our individual experiences, struggles, perspectives, and stories to one focal point.

We’re proclaiming that Jesus can speak and address the needs, pains, and joys of every type of the 7 billion human stories on the planet right now. What God’s done through Jesus can save all families. It’s incredibly powerful.

4. Unity to Creation

Look at the last thing worship unifies us to in verses 11-13. Who’s being summoned to worship here? Not people. Trees, rivers, rocks, fields, sea creatures, octopuses, etc. Song and worship unite us to God, the Gospel, each other, and creation.

All creation points forward and declares joy and gladness at who God is and what He’s done. So we are united to join creation, and why does it say we are doing this? Because the Creator is coming to judge (verse 13).

And some of us think, “Well, that’s not very good news… He comes to judge.” Hearing the word judge, especially in religious content, leads us to think negatively and judgmentally.  

But in the scriptures, God’s role as a judge is good news.  

Why? Because the world is a messy place. And what’s primarily messy with the world is us. We are part of the problem.

God’s judgment expresses His love and commitment to this beautiful world that He has made.

The response to that judgment is not, “He’s coming, so be afraid. He’s coming, so tremble.”

No, it’s, “Sing for joy, be glad because one day, He is coming to judge and make all things right.”

So, how does this impact us?

When we understand worship, its purpose, and what it does, it changes how we approach it. But if we’re doing that, how should we live it out?

Verse 2 says day after day.

This is something we should practice daily. In the same way you brush your teeth, tie your shoes, and make your bed or coffee every day, we’re called to worship and unite daily. To God, the Gospel, those around us, and creation… daily.

Maybe it’s in a Spotify playlist on the way to drop the kids off. Perhaps it’s a walk in the woods, a worship night, or quiet meditation – our goal and aim every day should be to unite through worship.

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