One of the themes that kept repeating itself in our Bible class on worship last night was the importance of knowing God in order to worship Him. You cannot worship who you do not know. Our praise comes from a recognition of who God is that causes in us a response, a reaction, and a proclamation of who God is and what He has done. Without knowledge worship is impossible. Worship done in ignorance is not worship at all. This is one reason it is important that we actually pay attention to the words we sing in praise. We are saying something about God!
Who is God and how does that influence our worship?
God is love and so we worship him with love in our hearts. God is spirit and so we recognize that our worship is also done in spirit and in truth. God is holy and our worship is to be done by the saints (literally “holy ones”). God is redeemer and so we worship him with an attitude of thankfulness. God is creator and so we worship Him humbled by all we see around us and the power it took to create all this with just the spoken Word. God has plans for us so we worship with hope and joy. God is and so we recognize his eternal nature and attributes.
If our worship does not recognize who God is then our worship is in vain. If we just worship because that is our tradition, just sing songs because they are in a book or on a screen, or take the Supper because that is what we do on Sunday and not because of how glorious God is then we are missing the heart of worship and misunderstand what worship is all about. I wonder how many churches have restored the form of worship of the early church but not the heart and attitude of it?
Let us never forget who the audience of our worship is. Fast songs, slow songs, old songs, or new songs…those things don’t matter as long as God is being glorified. And let those who come away from worship empty or with complaints ask themselves why that is the case? Was it because God was not glorified or was it because we didn’t get things the way we like them? If it is the first (and legitimately the first), then we have reason for concern. But if it is the second, then that person has an issue with having self be the focus of worship rather than God. It is entirely possible for God to be glorified by the songs we don’t particularly like! I have noticed time and time again that those who come to give God glory in their worship could care less about which songs are sung to get it done.