by Rick Pidcock
Perhaps in your own personal discussions on worship, you have heard someone blurt out, “How dare you say that my worship is man-centered! I’m God-centered!” In my few short years of leading worship, I have heard this statement way too many times by agenda-driven worshipers.
Of course, none of us would unabashedly proclaim that we strive to be man-centered. But unfortunately, if we were truly honest with ourselves, we would find that the overwhelming majority of churches today are producing man-centered worshipers.
We just finished a brief series on the gospel. Over the next few weeks, I would like to begin to explore what it means to have God-centered worship. It is not merely a case of having a good heart that longs to honor God. But it is a natural fruit of something much greater.
The first aspect of God-centered worship is that it is the natural fruit of a God-centered view of God. Since the goal of worship is to magnify the supremacy of God, we must understand what is fundamental to God—chiefly, His glory.
“I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.” –Isaiah 42:8
Folk singer David Wilcox has a spoof song called “God Is All About Me” that is meant to poke fun at the typical televangelist whose message is all about how God wants us to be rich by giving the preacher all of our money. Thankfully, God is not all about us. Instead, He is all about Himself. His glory is directly connected with His name. And His name is expressed through His work. And in Isaiah 42, there are two main acts of God that show the God-centeredness of God.
1. God’s glory is the central focus of His creation.
“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…” –Isaiah 42:5
Living in Colorado has shown me this truth every day over the past few years. The mountains are overwhelming. The sunsets are breathtaking. And all of its beauty aims at the awesomeness of God. Even creation itself responds to its Creator in worship. Psalm 96:11-13 says,
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
2. God’s glory is the central focus of His redemption.
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” –Isaiah 42:6-7
Most of us understand that God’s glory is the central focus of His creation. But we do not carry that same focus over to God’s work of redemption. We view redemption as what God does for us, which is true in part. But God’s act of redemption, or His withholding of it, is ultimately for His glory, not for our eternal comfort or pain.
He has called us in righteousness. He holds us and keeps us. When we were blind, He gave us sight. When we were enslaved, He gave us freedom. And He does it all because He is the Lord, and He will give His glory to no other.
We will be focusing on this truth more in depth in our next article. But suffice it for now to say that the central purpose for God’s work of redemption is His own glory.
God is all about Himself. And if our desire is to have true God-centered worship, we must begin with a God-centered view of God. Rather than focusing on trying to find the perfect songs, prayers, or music styles, we should be focusing on God. And as God reveals Himself to us, the fruit of His Self-centered revelation in our hearts will be radically God-centered worship.