How Shall We Worship Him?
By Alexander Samuels
I ran across an editorial by Jeremy Gage that was posted the other day on the Covenant Community Reformed Ministries Web site. I was not really looking for anything to do with the topic of Christian worship. The title however, "Substance and meat vs. shallow declaration," caught my attention.
After I read this, I have to say I was genuinely touched by the question this editorial raises about some of the worship songs I have so easily accepted. I ran through several in my head only to discover that "yes" there was a lot of . . . mindless repetition in some of the songs I knew that really taught me nothing about the glory and majesty of God. Certainly, there was no theology there as in most of the greatest hymns. I have to admit that this article bothers me. I guess that is what Gage intended it to do. I will share some of his own words with you and let you decide:
How many contemporary worship songs say "I love you" 87 times in a row? Or "You're a great God"? Or some other similar things, without any substance of exactly why God is worthy of our worship?
This is the key reason why I just don't like much of modern worship. It seems so shallow. It almost reminds me of infatuation, in some ways. You are overtaken by strong declarations of emotion, and although it's 'real' - you can't really describe why it is that way. There might be vague generalities or some such, but when it comes to writing pages upon pages of what exactly is so virtuous and praiseworthy - we're at a loss. This is not the way it should be. Yet, this is what we settle for in the worship of our Lord.
The old hymn-writers seemed to have the exact opposite take. They wrote verse after verse just describing, in Biblical detail, the glory, majesty, and character of God ... and they trusted in those meditations to bring about genuine love in the hearts of a regenerate. No over-the-top declarations of that love necessary, just a patient and passionate consideration of God's character.
In summary, and I know this is pretty inadequate as an explanation, but hopefully it'll make sense to you: it seems like these modern worship songs exalt our infatuation with God - trying to get us 'in love with being in love with God,' rather than bring us to a genuine consideration of that which makes Him 'altogether lovely.'
Here's a test that may make it clear: If you said "I love you Lord" 1000 times straight, you really don't get much more than a sinful, hypnotic state ... but if you carefully list 1000 of God's great attributes and deeds ... well then, that's something that'll stir your heart with genuine religious affection.