The Content of Worship

Recently, someone showed me a “new worship song”. They were so excited about the way it made them feel closer to God.

The “new worship song” opened with a pretty, melodic piano piece and was then followed by a single phrase – something like “I want to see you” – repeated five or six times before a big build and then a statement of all the ways the singer feels good when they are worshiping.

This is not worship.

Let me put this in context. Let’s say I wrote a love song for my wife and it went like this:

I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
You do the dishes.
You scratch my back.
You take care of the stuff that I don’t want to do.
You give me sex whenever I want it.
You make me feel good about myself.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.

Maybe my wife is different than yours, but my wife would haul off and slug me. Then she would not talk to me for at least the rest of the evening except to strongly suggest that I sleep on the couch.

Worship is not about repeating myself and commenting on how great it is that God gets to love me. That is narcissism, not worship.

People might say, “But it comes from the heart!” to which I reply, “Then your heart needs some adjustment because this tells me you are self-centered at heart.”

When we read the Psalms, the greatest book of worship songs ever written, we find a constant theme of God’s glory – very little of which involves the worshiper. Sure, the worshiper speaks a bit about himself from time to time, but then he turns it around and worships God in his divinity, transcendence and power. That bit about the worshiper – that’s not worship, it’s just context. The worship is the part about God.

The content of worship needs to be deeper and truer than our own emotional responses. That’s not to say that worship is not an emotional thing, but when all we can think of is our own emotions and responses, then it is actual self-worship and not God-worship.

Let me encourage you to pursue deeper content in your worship – musical or otherwise. Do not content yourself with putting on a Christian appearance for your sentimental journeys. If you need assistance, just pick up a psalm or two. They will feel unnaturally “deep” but they are after all God’s inspired worship.

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