Beyond Vicarious Worship

Vicarious adjective:

“Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.”

Recently a friend shared something very special with me. He has a family member whose singing voice can only be described as discordant, lacking all qualities of what most would call “beautiful.” This family member sings out with abandon, however, and by doing so, she is, as my friend sees it, upholding the integrity of worship assembly. Perhaps even more so than the singers with “pretty voices.” And this because God has asked His whole family to sing, not just the musically gifted.

It’s so easy to misplace our priorities on Sunday morning. We might feel distracted by the guy in the pew behind us as he croaks a monotone jumble out of rhythm. Maybe we even feel offended by the shrieking soprano who seems to be singing another song altogether. Worship is supposed to be beautiful. They’re ruining it, right?


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The beauty of Christ’s victory is that access to God is no longer mediated through other human beings with exclusive talent/privilege. When we withhold our voices or discourage the voice of another, we make singing the prerogative of the musically gifted, and we rob God of His praise in the process.

Temple noun:

“A place where deity dwells.”

Priesthood noun:

“Those who serve as mediatory agents between humans and deity. Priests also have the authority or power to administer certain rites.”

We have to think: how do these ideas relate to us today?  Do we fully appreciate how richly blessed we are in not having to experience worship vicariously? 

The New Testament ushered in profound changes in the ways that God’s people can and should approach Him.  Worship is not limited to a building, or a person. Jesus ushered a new avenue for every seeking heart to foster a direct relationship with God.

Consider the Lord’s Supper. Simple and universal elements are employed for an inclusive, unifying purpose. No complicated restrictions. No prescribed personnel. No territorial requirements. God-seekers have been provided unbelievable access to the Almighty through universally available means. It stirs my heart to know that the very first meal of astronauts on the moon was our Lord’s communion.  Simple, yet profound. Inclusive and direct.

I consider singing as a simple, profound and a ‘more excellent’ way.  Instead of requiring the skillful mastery of musical instruments, God invites every member of His family to offer the fruit of their lips from the bottom of their hearts.

There’s a myriad of arguments for the institution of a cappella congregational singing. Some claim that God never authorized musical instruments in the Old Testament, while others paint the use of mechanical instruments as totally evil. By focusing so much on what’s kosher for our assemblies, however, we miss what’s important about them.

James Sanderson of Saginaw, Michigan offers wonderful insight into the importance of 100% participation in this video:

As much as I love to play musical instruments, I’m thankful that the New Testament specifically directs believers to sing.  No believer is left out due to the lack of musical gifts or skills. Everyone’s offering is important and is not restricted by others’ aesthetic judgment. The symbolic beauty is only enhanced when musical “laymen” offer up their voices.

The Word says, “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you . . .”  

 “But you are a chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession . . .”

Let’s move beyond the world’s obsession with vicarious experiences and approach the throne of grace in confidence.  “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.


John 4:22-24;  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 2:9, 10; James 5:13; Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16

We learned of the moon-communion story through Angel Quake Ministries. Here is a link where you can read more about communion on the moon.

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