In theory God is the center of our worship but on an individual level it is not always the case. We realize we are singing songs to God but sometimes we push God aside and place ourselves in the center of it all. That sounds harsh but it happens. It happens when we get more caught up in whether or not the song selection, tempo, or song leader met our standards. You can tell who is really at the center of worship based on how we evaluate what makes worship “good” and how we talk about that. When we say things like, “I can’t believe we sang that song today” or “why don’t we ever sing the songs I like” it shows that practically that person has put themselves in the center of what worship is all about. They have become the standard and the audience. They believe it is for them, not for God. Whether or not God was pleased is an afterthought or maybe no thought at all.
I am struck by Isaiah’s response to being in the presence of God in Isaiah 6:1-8. He was humbled. He was repentant. He wasn’t critiquing the angels’ songs, their pitch, the speed of their holies. He was blown away in reverence and awe of being in the presence of the Almighty. I love what Abraham Heschel wrote about awe,
“Awe is a sense for the transcendence, for the reference everywhere to the mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine…to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe.” (I Asked for Wonder, 3). When confronted with the Holy God Isaiah fell on his face and gave himself up to his Creator and Sustainer.
What would our Sunday afternoon conversation sound like if it recognized it was all about God? What would we say? What would we emphasize? What would we tell our children as they listen to us? What would it take for us to get self out of the way and keep our focus on the Almighty? Any time you take an extraordinary thing, programize it and do it repeatedly there is a tendency to normalize it to the level of the common. We need a renewed sense of wonder, where God is at the center and all we do is give Him our best so He will be pleased! That is what worship is all about.