Is Jesus Too “Familiar” in our Worship?

As I’ve reflected in the last couple of posts on the loss of transcendence and the Word in worship, I’m realizing that there is another component that must be addressed that contributes to this loss. Rather than being the loss of something, it may be more accurately described as too much of a good thing.

What I would like to suggest is that Jesus is too “familiar” in the corporate worship experience of today. The signs of this are evident in the over-abundance of worship songs that focus on our personal experience with Jesus, as though our personal experience of Him is the purpose of our faith and corporate worship. Even in songs that seek to lift the greatness of God and His person, at some point the lyrics often swerve back to our personal and emotional connection with His greatness, or some other point of contact.

Please understand, I know this kind of familiarity is important when one considers the immanence of Christ, that is, His nearness and closeness to us and His creation. He is not a God that is separate from His creation, but Jesus became human, as we are, to share in humanity and redeem us (Heb. 2:14-15). I am not suggesting that we ignore the immanence of Christ. Rather, it seems to me that we have simplified this great doctrine to the point that Jesus has just become “one of the guys.”

And therein lies the problem. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is Lord, not simply a friend. Christ is the Head and King, not just one leader among many. He is the Foundation of our faith, not the justification for our fundraisers or building programs. He is the Presence of God, not our favorite neighbor or good buddy.

Having brought Jesus down to earth (down to our level), and making Him so familiar, we are on the edge of robbing Him of the reality of His person (at least in our worship). He is the second Person of the Trinity, uncreated, eternal, very God of very God, almighty, glorified and seated at the right hand of God the Father. It is Jesus that the Holy Spirit seeks to lift up and glorify in the Church, and in our lives.

Yes, I love Him. But I do not only love Him because of what He has done for me, so the songs we sing should move beyond that. I love and worship Him because He is beyond me. He is Other. He is the unseen made seeable (Col. 1:15). I absolutely want to know Him intimately and personally, but not to be so familiar that He becomes less than the God who is wholly different than me.

This is the Jesus that should fill our public worship. The One who is both near to me (the immanent), yet beyond all that I can think or imagine (transcendent). I think we’ve lost the balance.


Posted on October 21, 2015, in Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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