Every Christian has an opinion on the hows and whys of worship, on if it’s just for Sundays, on if it’s limited to music, on how it incorporates into our daily living, on how it pleases God, on how it benefits us, and on and on… Most would agree that worship, whatever it looks like, is a key element in our Christian experience.
I’ve been thinking lately not so much about the theology of worship but about theology IN worship, specifically in worship through song.
Every Christian has their favorite style: instruments or not, rock and roll or southern gospel, large corporate worship or small group or individual worship. Regardless of how you “enter in” your act of worship, just how closely are you listening to the words that are being sung?
Listen to the lines from a simple hymn like, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found.” How packed with theology is that small piece of song! It touches on the nature of grace, predestination, our need for a personal savior, the depravity of man, and so much more.
The songs that we sing have been written by men and women over the ages based on their personal experiences, their individual history, and on the foundation of their personal or denominational doctrines and understanding of God.
Not every song is laden with theology. But as you sing, listen. Jesus said, those who worship God will worship him in spirit and in truth. I believe that many have taken the “truth” part of this verse and incorrectly substituted “sincerity.” When Jesus spoke these words he was chastising the Samaritans because they didn’t know what they were worshiping. They may have been sincere, but their theology was wrong.
There’s a song we sing, maybe you have too, “Blessed Be Your Name,” by Matt Redman. The chorus says, “Every blessing you pour out / I’ll turn back to praise… You give and take away / My heart will choose to say / Lord, blessed be your name.” I wonder how many people that sing this song really don’t believe that God takes away? There is a whole segment of Christianity that believes that God only wants to bless us and prosper us and that God will never cause you to suffer the loss of anything. Are there churches that sing this song followed by a sermon that teaches if you are sick you just don’t have enough faith?
My point is not to condemn any song or style or belief. My point is to get you to think about what you are singing. Would you listen to a sermon or read a book that was teaching ideas or preaching theology that you didn’t believe lined up with what the Bible says is true about God? Why then would you listen to songs that would?
Have you ever come across a song of worship that you believe has an incorrect theology? If so, please let me know what song, and why. Or do you believe theology in worship is not important. I’d love to hear from you too.