What God Wants To See In Our Worship
Featuring Brian Doerksen Posted on April 3, 2010
We hear and see in part. But God doesn’t watch a film and see only what’s in the frame. He sees everything. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of God.
For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the
earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is
completely His. (2 Chron. 16:9 nasb)
What God wants to see is a heart and life completely devoted to Him. God doesn’t listen to a song and hear only what the producer or singer wants Him to hear. He hears everything—everything we say and think.
God takes delight when the whole of our life, everything He hears and sees, is an expression of love to Him. If we are walking in unfaithfulness or lack of love, He is not impressed with our music, no matter how grand or beautiful it sounds to our ears.
Remember the warning in Amos?
Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:23–24)
The issue is not the music—God loves music! Scripture contains way more commands to “sing a new song” than to “stop the music.” The answer is not to shut down creativity; religion has tried that many times and failed. If you are anything like me, you have “God encounters” as you get creative! Our calling as musicians and singers is to love God with our whole lives—and flee our culture’s proclivity to build facades that have no substance behind them. We live among a people that love to weave fig leaves together, hide behind them, and call it art. God loves all true and beautiful art (including the loveliness of a fig leaf), but He does not delight in beauty that is not matched to a life of love.
Apparently Lucifer was the most beautiful of angels … but God did not delight in his beauty. The question is this: Do our lives reflect the beauty, love, and justice of God? That’s a tough question to answer honestly. I wish the question was this instead: Does our music reflect the beauty, love, and justice of God? Answering that affirmatively can be done a whole lot easier than saying that our lives match the words of our songs.
Because God knows and sees everything, there is a day of reckoning coming. In the Scriptures it’s called “the day of the Lord.” Whether that day is a day of terror or a day of delight for us depends on how we live our lives.
In the book of Revelation there is an account of what people who have not repented of their sins and received the love of God will cry out. This will be the cry of those who have spent their earthly lives selfishly delighting only themselves:
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:15–17)
It’s interesting to me that it doesn’t say “the wrath of the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” No, it says the “wrath of the Lamb”! If the image of wrath was connected to a lion, it wouldn’t be too surprising—we have seen or heard of the wrath of lions as they rip apart their prey.
But the wrath of a lamb? Maybe the kings of the earth were expecting a lion but were surprised by a lamb. When the Lamb of God came the first time, the Jews were surprised too, because He didn’t conquer the Romans. The Jews expected a lion of a Messiah, but He came as a lamb.
It says of this lamb that a “smoldering wick he will not snuff out” and a “bruised reed he will not break” (Isa. 42:3). The Lamb of God is the love of God. He is the compassion of God incarnate.
But love is not love if there is no justice and payment for sin. It will fall to the Lamb to pass judgment, and that is good news for all of us. All of God’s wrath will pass through Jesus, the Lamb of God, who identifies with our human struggles yet was without sin.
So why couldn’t the kings of the earth stand before the Lamb? They knew that they had lived lives of wickedness and that the day of accounting had come. All of a sudden, what they had never wanted to admit to themselves or anyone else before became totally clear.
God knows everything about me. He knows every thought and deed. He knows every time I have sinned against someone else. He knows. And that is the incredible thing about God’s judgment and justice. It will be complete and total. It will be perfect. No amazing lawyer will be able to use convincing arguments to get anyone out of jail. The time for hiding and pretending will be over. Every unsolved crime will be brought to light and justice. Every horrific deed will be accounted for, and justice will be delivered.
God knows everything. And that is also the incredible thing about God’s love and mercy—it is complete and total. It is perfect; it casts out all fear. The time for hiding and pretending is over. And on that day no crafty demon or person will be able to separate us from the love of God.
Every insecurity and doubt will be swallowed up in the light and love of God. And even now, in the time before the incredible day of the Lord, we can experience unconditional love. The love that makes us sing. There is a powerful hymn that is not universally known but that is one of my favorites. I learned it as a child when my dad led the singing in our Mennonite church.
Thoughts on "The Love of God"
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen could ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child, He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure, the saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure, the saints’ and angels’ song.3
I love the fact that F. M. Lehman says that tongue or pen can never tell the depths of God’s love … but then he does what all creative people do and has a go at it! And the songwriter does an amazing job, using the images of an ocean filled with ink, the skies made of parchment, every stalk on earth a old-fashioned writing utensil waiting to be filled with ink—and every man setting out to write. The writers drain the ocean and fill the sky, and the job is still not done!
It’s an impossibly big picture. And it should be, because God’s love is impossibly bigger than we could ever imagine.
Maybe when I grow up, I will write some lyrics that come within a country mile of that kind of grandeur! In the meantime we songwriters have to continue trying to write God songs filled with God words. Some people complain that there are too many new songs being written. They said the same thing with the whole hymn explosion a couple of hundred years ago. The same thing will happen yet again, and the best songs will endure!
We need to keep writing and singing songs about who God is and what He is doing. That’s not just something we will be doing while we are earthbound. I wonder what kind of new love songs we will be singing in eternity. The images will be amazing … and the songs even more so. I wonder what God words we will be singing then.
- Worship Is Returning (Part 2)
- Songwriting Tips from the writer of "Hallelujah, Your Love Is Amazing"
- The Story Behind "Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)
- Reflecting on the song, "Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)"
- Songwriting Tips
- Worship Is Returning (Part 1)
- It's Time To Worship
- Would You Like to Know a Songwriter Secret?