If you love me, you will obey what I command.
John 14:15

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
John 14:15

If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands.
1 John 4:20-5:3.

‘Worship’ music has turned into a lucrative business. I heard recently that the Gospel/ worship / praise music turnover in the US is larger than the entire Australian music scene. Having heard many of the tunes, it’s understandable: they would stand comparison with the best of any secular tunes.

However, as is the current style, lyrics accompany the tunes. And in not a few of the songs, I see a problem. Regularly, the worship leader will claim that we will ‘come into the presence of God’ as we sing – or worse, by singing. This dumps us squarely back in the Old Testament, where God was located in the temple, and could only be approached through sacrifice. Now, we have free access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are always in His presence. How can singing bring us closer to God? It only affects our emotions; however, no matter how uplifted or downcast we feel, singing doesn’t bring us into the presence of God.

Now that old hobby horse is out of the way, the current one is ready to charge out of the starting gate. What does it mean for us to love God? The verses above are an indication: love for God expresses itself by obedience, not by good feelings or lofty emotions.

But emotions are what these ‘worship’ songs focus on. They speak of being ‘in love’ with God. But search the Scriptures: they defy us to describe our relationship with God as one of being in love. Being in love is a physiological and emotional (and sometimes sexual) response of desire for another. We want to be with the beloved. But love isn’t about what we want; it’s about doing what is best for another, even if that means discomfort for us.

Read the verses again but this time where they say ‘love’, read ‘in love’, with whatever type of verb is appropriate (being; was; are, et cetera). Instead of exalted, doesn’t the prose now seem rather debased? Like, Eeeww! The great practical theologian Eamer expressed the difference with a marvelously visceral quip: ‘[God] wants us to worship Him, not stick out tongue down His throat.’

For more on the difference between love and being in love, there’s another article somewhere around here.