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Is Your Jesus Gospel-Centred? (Part 2: Musical Worship)

May 27, 2013

The idea I’m trying to portray in this series of blog posts is that the Bible calls us to marvel at the unconditional love that is poured out by Father, exemplified in the Son’s sacrifice and to live a life in response by power of the Spirit. God’s reckless pursuit of our wholly rebellious souls should prompt us to abdicate the throne at the centre of our hearts and willingly declare that ‘I…am not my own, but belong onto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ’. This love so wrought in pain and suffering has an intrinsic request, that we love the One who loved us first, with all our mind, body, strength and soul (Luke 10:27). There is no middle ground; either we give up all our hopes, dreams and selfish ambitions and call him Lord, or we simply don’t recognise Him as God. The gospel should permeate all our endeavours, without exception.

And so, when we sing to this holy Triune God, these ideas must be fresh in our thinking. I’ll propose 3 imperatives of gospel-centred worship:

(NB In this context, worship refers to the praising of God through music)

1) Worship Should Be Communal

God is Trinitarian. He is one God, who exists as three separate, distinct persons. This concept, despite being mind-bending, is at the foundation of our Christian faith. We, as humans, are knitted together with a deep desire for relationship because the Master Crafter is, by His very nature, a God of community. Hence, our worship should reflect this beautiful truth! The overarching theme of the Bible is God bringing together a group of people, bought from Satan’s grip with spotless blood, and scrubbing their hearts clean to adore Him for eternity. God allows us an insight into Heaven when we meet together as a local church and lift our voices in recognising all God is and all He has done for us. As Zac Hicks says, “When we sing together we reflect the Trinity-many disparate voices join together in a harmonic oneness”

2) Worship Should Focus on God, Not Us

This is a really key point for me. Songs that wax lyrical about what we are going to do for God are symptomatic of a consumerist church culture that says its all about me, myself and I. This mocks the gospel message that “I am a great sinner and…Christ is a great Saviour” and attempts to reverse those identities. Why do we seek to make grandiose pledges to God which melt into insignificance by Monday morning instead of exalting the unchanging glory of our Redeemer? A part of our worship should be response to God’s greatness and a desire for the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, but to neglect the gravity of our sin or the fickleness of human nature is naive.

3) Worship Should Be Passionate

Attending concerts, I’ve seen first-hand crowds being whipped into a frenzy by well choreographed stage routines, and then being told that this is what worship is all about. This cruel manipulation leaves only tired bodies and empty, unsatisfied souls. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got churches that exist in an atmosphere that shuns emotion during songs. A climate of distaste that seeks to forcefully imply that anyone who shows any public display of affection towards their King is a weed-smoking, theologically liberal hippy. We have got to allow ourselves to be moved by the love story of the gospel, the groom who pursues His ever unfaithful bride, and this will naturally result in us wanting to rejoice from the rooftops.

I pray we would strive to worship God in spirit and in truth, both faithful to His word, but also with a boldness befitting the message we sing about. A book I have found massively helpful is ‘Doxology and Theology: How The Gospel Forms The Worship Leader’. It has great insights from a variety of contributors in different situations, all seeking to give God the glory.

Soli Deo Gloria

Jack

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