So here’s a little thought experiment. Read this passage below:
In the name of God,
Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to God,
The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds;
Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
Master of the Day of Judgment.
Thee do we worship,
and Thine aid we seek.
Show us the straight way,
The way of those on whom
Thou hast bestowed thy grace,
those whose portion
is not wrath
and who do no go astray.
And now here’s two questions:
First, what do you agree with or resonate with in that passage? Most likely you’ll say, just about everything! Christians in general would find those words a pretty beautiful description of some worship and prayer.
So here’s the second question: How does this passage fail to describe everything about your worship? Or to ask it another way: What is this passage missing to make it accurately describe what you believe?(Here’s a hint: You should be able to definitely and specifically answer this question.)
Now, this passage sounds like it could come from the Old Testament (it doesn’t), and so in one sense we’re not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with it, as it stands, alone and out of context. But that gets at the heart of the issue. Because, taken alone, do the Psalms (for instance) express the whole of your worship and knowledge of God?
And the answer, of course, is no. As Christians, we worship, specifically and supremely, “The Glory of God in the Face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4). We know that Jesus is the supreme revelation of God (John 1, Hebrews 1) and we can’t ever stop short with just saying “God,” if we’re given the chance. After all, “No one comes to the Father,” Jesus said, “except through me.” So in order to make speech about God, or worship in general, authentically Christian, it has to be shaped and informed by what God has revealed about Himself in Jesus Christ.
The point of this is not to comment on every worship song we sing–it’s more about the total content of what we hold in our minds in terms of what we believe. And it’s also about how we speak about these things to non-believers as well.
This second point becomes crucial when you know where the above passage is from.
It’s the first sura of the Koran.