We often think of worship apart from theology. Worship is singing songs that move us emotionally, stir us, inspire us, etc. But worship is the most theological, theocentric thing we ever do!
What do I mean?
When I say that worship is the most theological, theocentric (God-cenetered) thing we do, I mean that it is focused entirely on God. It flows out of an understanding and deep love for who God is. If you don’t know much about God, your worship will be shallow. The deeper one’s knowledge of God, the more passionate the worship will be. FW Faber, a Catholic theologian, has said well, “Deep theology is the best fuel of devotion; it readily catches fire, and once kindled it burns long”. Every once and a while you can hear someone say, “I don’t need that theology, just let me love and sing about Jesus” (maybe they don’t say it exactly like that, but that’s whet they mean). I can’t imagine saying that to my wife. “Honey, I love you, but I don’t want to know you any better”. That’s not love. Love wants to know the object of its affection more fully, more intimately. Worship flows out of this knowledge.
Moreover, I believe worship is the most theological, theocentric thing we do because it has no application, nor is it a means to any end. Preaching has application. Bible study has a goal. Evangelism is a means. But not worship. Worship is the end goal of all these things. There is no application. There is no desired outcome other than God be worshipped. In that way, it is entirely, at least it should be entirely, focused on God. It’s not about outreach. It’s not about instruction. Its not about ministering to people or inspiring them. Its all about, from beginning to end, God! Other things may happen, indeed, other things will happen. People will be inspired. As we sing great theological hymns, people will be taught. People will see the passion and be drawn to God. No doubt. But these are not the GOAL of worship.
In this way, worship is entirely unique. The missionary or evangelist or teacher can not claim their ministries are an end unto themselves. Think about that for a minute. If evangelism was an end, then when someone asked you why you witnessed, you would have to answer “so that the person who I witness to will accept Christ and then turn into a witnesser who will lead other to accept Christ and become witnessers who will lead others to Christ and to become witnessers, etc, etc….” There is not end point, no terminus if missions/evangelism is the chief end. But its not. Worship is. We lead others to Christ so that God will be worshipped! Period, end. The same could be said of teaching, preaching, fellowship, etc. They are not ends, because knowledge and community are not ends, only means to an end.
All we do is to bring honor and glory to God – that is worship. That is the chief end of man, and of Christ’s church.