Worship, Art, and Justice

Allow me to introduce you to Justin McRoberts. Justin is a friend of Art House America and our mission.  I recently worked alongside Justin and others at a songwriting conference at Mt. Hermon in Santa Cruz, California. One evening Justin was asked to offer a few words on the link between justice and worship, and my ears perked up. We live in a time when many people of Christian faith see worship as synonymous with music only. I thought, "Well this should be interesting." It was. So I asked Justin if he would share with all of you a glimpse into his thinking on the subject of justice and worship.

Thank you, Justin. You’re on to something good here. To the degree we fail to take seriously what God takes seriously, our worship lacks integrity. This inspired me.

I hope it inspires all of you, too.
—Charlie Peacock
Founder, Co-Executive Director
Art House America


Justin, in his own words:

I’m hardly the first person to point out that the semantic confusion between “worship” and “music” has been damaging to both “worship” and “music.” This is not to say that the relationship between the two must be severed. On the contrary, I believe worship and the arts are linked in essential ways. But I also believe a third idea must be introduced in order for us to come to a fuller understanding of that relationship. That idea is “justice.”

Though I believe I’ll spend the rest of my life unpacking these thoughts and trying to live them out, here’s what I have a grip on so far . . .

The measure of true worship is the transformation of people’s lives. Worship ultimately means aligning my life to the Life of Jesus, and it means aligning my way of going about life to the Way of Jesus.

The measure of a transformed life is the transformation and blessing of the world in which those lives are led. The way I know my life is changing is that the lives of those I care for are changing for the better, too. The same goes for the neighborhood in which I live: if my neighbor’s life is not better because of my being in it, if my city is not a sweeter place, if the larger world is not being blessed through my life, then I must seriously question whether my worship is true.

Transformation, in the Christian worldview, means the alignment of things to the Way of Jesus and His Kingdom. This is not the nebulous, immeasurable, and directionless change we’re used to hearing about from the mouths of pop psychologists or politicians. It is transformation in the particular and recognizable direction of justice — that is, all of creation being restored to rightness and health, including a right relationship with its Creator.

Justin McRoberts is a singer-songwriter and storyteller from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his wife and their son Asa. He thinks aloud at his blog: www.justinmcroberts.com/blog.

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