Picture the scene. It’s a Sunday morning, we’re in the local church of Anytown, and the worship leader has just finished a song; ‘Lord Jesus, we thank you for your presence in this place, we love you Jesus, we glorify your name…’ and softly the music builds and the vocals come in: ‘It’s all about you, Jesus…’
Later the pastor steps up and raises the energy levels: ‘We’re here because of Jesus! Let’s give him the glory! It’s time to commit ourselves again to him and his kingdom!’
Question. What would Jesus think about that not-entirely-untypical worship scenario?
Consider the famous Christ-hymn in Philippians 2:5-11. From verse 8 it says:
‘Jesus became obedient to death- even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord…’
But you can’t stop reading there.
‘…to the glory of God the Father’
Our worship of Jesus, our acknowledgment of him as King and Lord, our bowing down before his mighty Name, is to be done ‘to the glory of God the Father’. Does our corporate worship reflect that? Or has the Father been sidelined because Jesus (being fully human as well as fully God) is altogether more comprehensible and manageable? And what about the Spirit?
Robin Parry’s excellent book ‘Worshiping Trinity’ makes it clear – for our worship to be truly Christian, it needs to be Trinitarian. We worship the Father who is revealed by the Son, and made known to us by the Spirit. We worship the Son who has paid the way for us to access the Father. We worship the Spirit who inspires us and leads us into all truth regarding the Father and the Son. We worship the one God who is mysteriously three persons at the same time, unconcerned by the mathematics of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, but instead drawn into the eternal relationship of perfect love that exists within the Godhead.
Once we begin to understand that the Trinity is a relationship to be experienced, not a mathematical puzzle to be solved, our worship is transformed. Back to Anytown, where the worship leader has just finished another song: ‘Father, we thank you for the love you showed in sending your Son to die for us. Thank you that you are present with us by your Spirit right now…. ‘
And what do our songs say? Matt Redman pointed out a few years ago in a songwriter’s workshop, that from the top 50 CCLI songs of the time, only one mentioned the Trinity – Chris Tomlin’s ‘How Great is our God’. What a tragedy! Our God IS Father, Son, and Spirit, so if we’re not worshiping that God, we’re not worshiping the Christian God! Granted, not every song has tick all three boxes, but there is a duty of responsibility on pastors, worship leaders, service planners, to make sure that over time there is a balance of material that leaves no-one in any doubt exactly who it is we are worshiping. Yes, it is Jesus. But it’s also the Father, and the Spirit, and the one indivisible God who exists in perfect love and draws us into the embrace of the Trinity. As Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17:
‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.’ Amen.
We give glory and praise to the Father;
uncreated, immortal, invisible God.
His hands hold the whole of creation,
and his heart overflows with love.
We give glory and praise to our Savior;
Son of God, Son of Man, perfect payment for sin.
He rose from the grave, he ascended,
and one day he will come again.
You are so holy, holy, holy,
the awesome Trinity,
forever Father, Spirit, Son.
You are, you were and always will be
God from eternity,
forever three, forever one.
We give glory and praise to the Spirit
who inspires and equips us to follow the Son.
Our Helper, our Counsel, our Comfort,
guarantee of all that’s to come.
You are our God, you are our God.
You are our God, you are our God.
The only God, the Living God,
Almighty God, You are our God
(c) 2008 Matt Osgood/www.RESOUNDworship.org