when worship misses the mark

when worship misses the mark
image by dall.e 2

On Saturday mornings in our house, things got chaotic. As soon as the sun rose, my brother began aggressively washing our car and my mother seized the opportunity to wrestle with the silverware in our kitchen. My sisters rushed to wake up too, but only to start squabbling over who was wearing what dress and for which cute boy. In contrast, I had the weighty responsibility of deciding which part of my body ached so that I did not go to church with them. I was able to play sickly sometimes and my parents let me stay at home. At other times, they dragged me along with them to the adult service despite my fake cries and poor acting. Their mass was bearable, unlike the kids’ Saturday school that taught me songs about talking snakes, flooding piles of earth, fermentable water, and resurrections. Despite being only seven years old, I was aware that the songs I heard were in stark contrast to what I knew of God. They sounded like captivating Biblical passages yet the lyrics used were so human-centric that they resembled secular music. 

Sadly, Christian songs still conceal this kind of language in some of their most famous worship music even today. For example, Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love” rings, “Oh, the overwhelming never-ending reckless love of God … it chases me down fights ‘til I’m found”. Is Cory calling God careless? Hasty? Rash? Why is God chasing after him? Is God desperate?

Speaking of desperation, Hillsong Music declares in “What a beautiful name”, “You didn't want Heaven without us, so Jesus, you brought Heaven down”. Was Jesus lonely in Heaven? Were the jesters in God’s court running out of jokes to tell? 

What about Elevation Worship’s “Do It Again” that echoes, “You’ve never failed me yet”? Are they secretly waiting for God to screw up? Should I really have these questions after listening to a worship song? And is there even a satisfactory reaction to Christian music? 

Even if there isn’t an expected way of receiving these songs, the question remains: what is the purpose of worship music? What messages should they plant in people’s minds as they listen to them? This is why I had an issue with Cory’s, Hillsong’s, and Elevation’s lyrics. Instead of my heart crying out, “Oh! God is so gracious to me!”, I could not help but hear, “God is chasing after me”, “Jesus didn’t want Heaven without me”, “God better not fail me”. That could not be further from the message of the Bible!

It seems to me that we are forgetting how the entire universe and everything in it were created by God and for his glory. We Christians should accordingly live our lives in a way that glorifies God, including the way that we sing to him. When worship lyrics are not centred on God’s beauty, God’s mercy, God’s faithfulness, and God's... not reckless but unwavering love, they miss the mark and make young girls not want to go to church.