Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Worship: All about ME ME ME?

Take a look at this video. It's clever and it makes a good point. You almost don't know whether to laugh or to cry when you watch it. I'm not a big fan of Rick Warren, but he surely did hit the nail on the head with the first sentence of his book, The Purpose Driven Life:

It's not about you.

He's right. Life isn't about me. Worship shouldn't be either.

Naturally, in our churches we don't go around singing, "I Exalt Me" or anything else so blatantly ridiculous or blasphemous. (And if your church does, honey, RUN!) But, have you ever noticed how many of the songs we sing in church come from a "me" perspective rather than being "You" focused?

Lord I lift Your name on high

Lord I love to sing Your praises

I'm so glad You're in my life

I'm so glad You came to save us

I'm trading my sorrows

I'm trading my shame

I'm laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness

I'm trading my pain

I'm laying them down

For the joy of the Lord

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

I am a friend of God

He calls me friend

Who am I that You are mindful of me

That You hear me

When I call

Is it true that You are thinking of me

How You love me

It's amazing

Me-centered songs talk a lot about people and the benefits we get from our relationship with God, while You-focused songs concentrate more on extolling the attributes of God:

Lord of all creation

Of water earth and sky

The heavens are Your tabernacle

Glory to the Lord on high

God of wonders beyond our galaxy

You are holy holy

The universe declares Your majesty

You are holy holy

Lord of heaven and earth

Alleluia alleluia for our Lord God Almighty reigns

Alleluia alleluia for our Lord God Almighty reigns

Alleluia holy holy are You Lord God Almighty

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

You are holy holy are You Lord God Almighty

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb amen

Jesus name above all names

Beautiful Savior glorious Lord

Emmanuel God is with us

Blessed Redeemer living Word

Now don't get me wrong, singing about our relationship with God is important. The Psalms are full of songs that talk about how we relate to God and how He relates to us. The 23rd Psalm is a great example. So is Psalm 103:2: Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits. I like all three of the songs I've listed as "me-centered" and have used them in church on several occasions.

But consider this-- when searching for the lyrics for the songs I've quoted above, I went to the CCLI site I use when planning music for my church's worship services. The site has a feature that shows both the top 25 songs and the top 100 songs churches have used in previous weeks and months.

I found the three "me-centered" songs in less than five minutes. Two were in last week's top twenty and one was number 26. For the "You-focused" songs, I had to go to the list of the top 100 songs. It took me forty minutes to search through most of the songs on that list looking for songs that contained only lyrics centered on God and His attributes.

When I looked at the top nineteen songs my local Contemporary Christian radio station (KLOVE) played last week, seventeen of them are what I would consider to be "me-centered" or "people-centered" (numbers two and four would be the "You-focused" ones).

Look at Revelation 4:8-11. How do those who are actually face to face with God worship Him?


Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. (11)

Should the majority of the songs we use in worship be from our perspective, about us, about what we get from God? Where is our focus? Who are we worshipping, anyway?

1 comment:

Kaye Dacus said...

There was a song used at a conference I attended last year called "Favorite One":

Here I am your favorite one
What are You thinking, what are You feeling?
I have to know.
For I, I'm after Your heart
I'm after Your heart
I am after You
And I'll crown You with my love.

Though a portion of the attendees seemed to find nothing wrong with the song, many, many others of us found a deep theological problem with it---which is exactly what you're talking about: it's "me" centered.

Thanks for bringing up something that a lot of people don't talk about because they're sure they're the only ones feeling that way!