4 Reasons Why God MUST Be the Sole Focus of Our Worship

MAC BURELL • MAY 22, 2024

Worship is the number one way that I personally connect with God.

Whether that’s in my own time at home or during a service with the body of Christ. I recognize that there are many different ways we can “worship” but in this context, I will be referring to the time of singing songs and praising God that usually occurs during the beginning of a church service.

Worship looks very different in today’s churches than it did when David was still king over Israel. We have a lot of new additions to the place of worship and by no means am I saying that those things are bad. If anything I would say that all of those things are good! They help make sure that worship (in song form) sounds and looks good for everyone present and they can make things easier on all parties (except church sound engineers sometimes). BUT… These things are to come AFTER the very reason they exist in the first place; AFTER the One that we are actually worshiping. A healthy church recognizes that these things exist to lift God higher and help Him be the sole focus of our worship.

So why is this important? Why should we make sure that these things are not the sole focus of our worship? What happens when we take that sole focus away from the Lord? Why must God be the sole focus of our worship?

Because the Bible Says So

Of course it does!

Everything that the church does is supposed to be based on scripture, right? Literally the first commandment speaks of having no god before the Lord (Exodus 20:3) and further in Exodus, the Lord also says, “Do not worship any other god…” (34:14a). When we worship, if we place anything else as a sole focus of worship, we are breaking those commands from God. Furthermore, if we begin to let anything get close to that place that is reserved for God and begin to give it any sort of space in that time of worship, we are then worshiping that thing as well. Therefore, we are breaking the commandment.

Examples of this would be when any aspect of the worship begins to distract people from the Lord. I understand that distraction cannot always be controlled but when we are in charge of creating a space of worship (worship leaders and band members) or we are entering a time of worship (attendees, pastors, volunteers) we have to ensure that everything that we can control is not only pointing people to God but being created with the intent of worshiping God.

My heart is not to condemn anyone, but to help inform. If you are like me, then you might fall into the trap of worrying that you may be breaking this commandment by accident at times. What I would say is this: Ask that the Lord would reveal to you when the focus has been taken off of Him. Let Him help you navigate what it looks like to ensure that He is always the focus of worship (whether when it’s you and Him or when it’s during church) and look for examples in the Word where this is done well.

Because If Not, Then It’s For Nothing

The very reason that worship exists is for God.

Therefore removing the focus off of Him and onto literally anything else, is utterly meaningless. It's just noise. It's just people singing in a room. It’s just people having a pretty song fall straight to the ground. Where is the meaning behind having a place of worship and a church dedicated to the Lord when the worship that is taking place isn’t placing the Lord on His rightful throne?

Puts Us In Our Place

Honestly, what else would be our focus if not the Lord? Would it be ourselves? Would it be our struggles and shame? Would it be focused on what God can do for us?

If we are not focusing on God in our worship then we can be tempted to turn that focus inward and begin to glorify ourselves.

In a time of worship, if we begin to focus on all the ways we do wrong and how “evil” we are, it can become dangerous because you’re no longer looking at the Lord. It can be used to glorify the Lord, sure, but that’s when you focus on how good God is because He has removed you from that place (the focus still being on Him).

It is never supposed to be about us and in this specific type of worship, it can be really easy to make it about us. Whether that is a band member playing a solo for the sake of it sounding really cool or a worship leader doing the new hit Christian song just because it’s a hit. Sure, those things can be done well, but it’s all about intentions.

I know I was just picking on people “in charge” with those examples (they should be held to a higher standard) but also this same principle applies to those participating in worship from the congregation. Don’t just shout because it feels really good to shout; shout out of the overflow of not being able to respond to the Lord’s goodness any other way. Don’t just dance and jump because there are other people doing so; dance and jump because the Lord has set you free or because He’s healed an injury and now you are able to dance and jump! Don’t just worship from your knees because the song said to or even because the worship leader asked you to; worship from your knees because you recognize Him as the true King over your life and you see that you are nothing but a broken mortal that deserves to be put to death yet Jesus stepped in and died for you.

I encourage you to truly think about the way that you worship next time you are in a service and ask yourself why you find yourself doing the things that you do. Let it correct you but also remind you of the true beauty in why you are worshiping that way. Let it put you in your place and Jesus in His.

It Invites Him to Be with Us

Lastly, worship is supposed to be a place of connection.

It’s a chance for His children to adore Him, look at Him, find Him in a negative circumstance, lift Him up in their hearts because recently they have taken Him off the throne, AND for Him to meet us.

It’s so beautiful when the time for worship is focused on God (that’s literally the whole point of this article). He meets us there. Time and time again He can be seen showing up in this context and giving His children encouragement, love, healing, a sound mind, a fresh downpour of His Spirit, etc. When we look at the Lord and focus solely on Him in these times of worship, it gives Him the space to show up in ways that would not otherwise happen if we were looking at something else.

It’s an invitation. It's our heart singing to His heart. It’s us looking at Him with the deepest longing and saying “I love you”. We can’t do that from a pure heart while something else is being focused on. If you think about the first time you said that to a significant other, or to a family member in a really tender moment, even if you hate eye contact (like me), you still will find that the focus of your vision was on them. You meant it, you wanted it, you desired for them to know where your heart was postured, toward them.

This is what worship is about. It’s about connecting your heart with God’s heart without anything else or anyone else getting in the way of Him knowing your heart toward Him. Even in times of hurt, it’s about pouring your heart out; saying "I've seen you do this, I know who you truly are, where is that good God now?”. This is true connection and true intimacy. And it gives God space to enter into those moments with a reminder of truth.

I pray that if you find yourself in a place where worship has seemed distracting or you feel that the focus has been off in services you have attended, that the Lord will help your heart connect with Him despite the rest of the room because sometimes all it takes is one heart truly connected to God to change a room. I also pray that if you’ve felt hopeless and distraught, that you’d find the courage to worship from that place and watch the Lord meet you there in a way that is only found in those times.