Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Wordsmanship of Worship

We live in a very utilitarian culture driven by me, me, and mine. We are driven by how much happier we'll be if we purchase this, do this, attend here, act like this, etc. We talk about self-improvement, but rarely seem to get beyond that. Could it be that to improve ourselves we sometimes have to forget ourselves?

I've noticed this consumer egocentrism in rather disturbing places, like ads for seminary school ("Seminary YOUR way!"), and the general health and wealth prosperity gospel that is so often preached. Recently, I've also noticed it in so-called worship songs.

What is worship? While my pastor has given sermons on that, to sum it up, it's doing everything as if for God, not man. So why, then, are so many worship songs so stiflingly focused on me?

It's not the sweet and hymn-like musical structure of a song that makes it worshipful, it's the intent behind the lyrics, isn't it? So why do we consider songs with words like "How great Your affections are for me, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us so" to be worshipful? Or "You make everything glorious, and I am Yours, so what does that make me?" And those are just a couple of the newer songs. Even some of the older hymns have similar content.

I mean, it's true. Those example lyrics are true, I have no doubt, but how is that giving ourselves over to the Most High? How is that glorifying Him? It's not saying "I love you, God", or "Thank You, God", or "How great are You, God", or even "How great is your love, God", it's all about "Lookee what you give me, God!"

As far as I understand, God isn't about what I can get out of Him. I'm more of the mentality that God is Good, no matter what, and our purpose is to bring glory to Him, not to have our Master bring glory to us.

I find it difficult to sing songs like these, because I can't worship if I'm focusing on me. So it puts me in a hard spot when a little voice in my head goes "Carla. Standing around, silently fuming, isn't worship, either."


"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln


art said...

Some of the Christian songs that have been song over the years is of questionable theology. I am not against "happy" songs that are not worship, but I think it is good to know that they are not worship songs.

Do all songs in church have to be worship songs? I don't think so. I think when we call a church service a "worship" service, that is not correct. It may be good to hear about marriage preached in church but listening to marriage talks is not really worship. Let's just call it a "church service" then we don't have to worry about what we sing or what is preached.

Bri said...

While I totally agree with what your saying and I've shared similar sentiments about that exact song before... I'm actually not against it. I can't fully describe why, but I guess the message in that song has changed people's lives so dramatically... just basking in how much God soaks me in His love and grace fills me with such joy. I love that song.
You should watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chx6s3qXKt4
The guy leading the song says "It's not a worship song but I sing it like a worship song"... and ditto for me.
Love ya!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Carla. And sadly even when you're singing a song with worshipful words you can forget to mean what you're singing. I wonder how many times I've sung a song in church without actually worshiping?