While I was in Perth as part of University, I had the opportunity to go to a Praise and Protest night. This was a night of worship through song while also advocating for the healing of those who suffer from human trafficking in Nepal; raising money for 3 Angels Nepal. I have to say that this is one of the most powerful worship experiences that I've ever been a part of, probably because of the incorporation of the justice element!
As I was talking to one of the organisers he mentioned that in the western world, worship is mostly about celebration but in the eastern world, worship is primarily lamentation. With all the blessings and privileges that we have in the west, we worship God and thank him for what he has done in our life. That is definitely an essential part of worship! However, a different dimension to worship emerges in a reality where those privileges don't exist and comfort is taken away.
For God, true worship is acting justly and loving mercy (Micah 6:8), yes, part of that is singing but more than that God wants our hearts to break for what his heart breaks for.
When we read through the Psalms we see the theme of justice heavily integrated into the Psalms. These songs outline that justice is the very heart of God and that as people we are supposed to advocate for justice in our life. Psalms 72 writes:
12 He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.
Furthermore, the Hebrew Prophets write about how God doesn't want people's empty songs and sacrifices, instead, he wants his people to advocate for the oppressed. Yahweh rebukes Israel through Amos as he says:
21“I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.
For God, true worship is acting justly and loving mercy (Micah 6:8), yes, part of that is singing but more than that God wants our hearts to break for what his heart breaks for. And as a result, we give our prayers, time and money to those who are oppressed in the unjust world that we inhabit.