There’s a theory among some theologians that God sang the universe into existence. It’s a beautiful, albeit strange thought, but Biblical scholars weren’t the only ones to look up at the heavens and ponder a musical origin.
Centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras theorized a concept called “The Music of the Spheres”. Noticing the mathematical precision in the arrangement of the celestial bodies, he likened it to the precision of music. He reasoned that because objects produced sound when in motion, planets moving in orbit should also produce a sound.
Fast-forward to the present age and astronomers discovered a way to make that sound audible. Using special devices installed on space crafts, astronomers were able to detect electromagnetic signals, or vibrations, coming from planets, moons, and stars. Those vibrations were recorded and tuned to a frequency that humans could hear. The results were breathtaking.
From the animal like cries of Saturn’s rings and the tribal drums of Vela Pulsar to the haunting whistle of Jupitar’s windswept core, the universe is bursting with song.
Hearing about discoveries like this, we can’t help but recall to mind verses in the book of Isaiah and in the Psalms.
“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!”Psalm 148:3-4
Whether or not God actually sang the world into existence, it’s clear from scripture that God delights in music. He delights in it so much that He not only commands humans to sing praises to Him—but even charges the heavens, the earth, and all creatures upon the earth to give Him praise, glory, and honor. (Isaiah 43:20-21)
Make no mistake…God doesn’t need our praise. He isn’t some anemic emo sitting in the clouds hoping people will worship Him. He’s completely satisfied in himself, lacking in nothing. Being praised is His right as the Creator of the universe and praising Him is the natural response of sinners saved by His grace.
With such a God as ours, with such a Biblical mandate set before us, our worship should be passionate, theologically rich odes to the Great I Am. They should recall God’s mighty works throughout redemptive history, His steadfast love, and unwavering promises.
Sadly, the church’s response to this decree typically falls into two categories:
1) The so called Holy-Roller, spirit filled church that enters into praise with a sweat-drenched, gyrating, foot-stomping frenzy but whose lyrics have the theological integrity of a sand castle
2) The tight-lipped, lock-kneed, dull-eyed stoics who offer up theologically rich worship but do so with all the excitement of a funeral procession
Both are problematic, but by far the most prevalent and the most damaging, are the “spirit-filled”, seeker sensitive churches.
In exchange for joining their congregation, you’ll get an emotional experience that just might leave you passed out on the floor or walking down the aisle to get saved. Saved from what, you ask? You’re not sure, but the fedora-wearing vocalist is telling you to accept Jesus with such passion, you’re compelled to listen. Those aren’t strobe lights, that’s no fog machine, and the bass thumping in your chest—definitely not coming from the guitarist on stage. It’s the Holy Spirit here to give you a good time.
You get the picture. These churches offer up vapid, self-glorifying praise that’s all hype and no substance. People come to get their praise fix—a rush of emotional adrenaline that leaves them unchallenged and unchanged.
It’s no wonder the “Christian” music industry is just as shallow as the secular music industry. It’s not shocking that so many mainstream “Christian” artists later adopt heresy after years of singing songs with no theological integrity.
Some may argue that I’m being legalistic–that songs are just songs and that as long as you love Jesus, it doesn’t matter if you butcher the gospel Christ bled and died for or make God a liar with heretical lyrics.
But it does matter.
Doxology reflects theology. Said another way…the way we worship God reflects our view of God. Bad doxology propagates bad theology which cultivates weak, milquetoast Christians.
So, what should our worship look like? Is there a biblical standard we can follow? John 4:23-24 gives us our answer:
“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Notice it says “spirit and truth” not “spirit or truth”. John Piper explains this beautifully:
Worship must be vital and real in the heart, and worship must rest on a true perception of God. […] Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of artificial admirers…On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought.”John piper, Worship in Spirit and Truth
In short, fellow believer, God has a method of saving and sanctifying His people that doesn’t allow for any deviance. There’s no other way to holiness outside of His divine decree.
So, when we’re commanded to praise Him, we shouldn’t take it lightly. He deserves our best efforts, and our time to make sure that we are indeed worshiping Him in spirit and truth.
This isn’t a task we come to begrudgingly but one we come to with hearts overflowing with joy. For we don’t worship a god of stone or humble ourselves before a god whose bones lie in a grave. No. We worship the one true God, Maker of heaven and Earth, the Omnipotent One to whom the galaxy trembles before with praise.