Are You Insulting God in Worship?

The misunderstanding of a short, three-letter word can transform an act of heartfelt worship into a slanderous insult.

Perhaps you’ve heard Matt Redman’s song “Here for You” and are familiar with its lyrics. Here’s the first verse:

     Let our praise be Your welcome
     Let our songs be a sign
     We are here for You, we are here for You
     Let Your breath come from heaven
     Fill our hearts with Your life
     We are here for You, we are here for You

Little words can mean a lot. They can make the difference between good and evil, between heaven and hell. In this case, a right understanding of a single word is the only thing that prevents an act of worship from degenerating into a colossal insult to God. It’s the word “for.”

Here to Help?

Imagine for a moment that a person in your church has fallen ill and is bedridden. While he is helplessly laid up, his house suffers from disrepair. The yard is overgrown and desperately in need of care. You and a small group from the church show up unexpectedly at his home, prepared to do for him what he simply cannot do for himself.

“Why are you here?” he asks. “What’s this all about?”

“We are here for you,” everyone responds in unison.

Think about the meaning of “for” in that sentence. You are telling your friend that you are present in order to provide a service for him. He is weak and sickly and in great need, and you and your friends are here to do for him what he lacks the strength and ability to do on his own. He is in lack. You are here in order to supply for him a service that he is unable to accomplish in his own power.

“Our worship on Sunday morning doesn’t meet a need in God. It meets a need in us.”

Once the house has been cleaned and the yard has been mowed, the hedges trimmed, and the trash hauled off, he says, “I can’t believe you are so kind to me. That you would provide this service for me is amazing. I’ve been so weak and exhausted, and I simply didn’t have the time or energy to do for myself what you’ve done for me. Thanks so much.”

What are we doing when we gather corporately and sing our praise to God? What is our intent? What is it that we believe we are achieving?

When we sing, “We are here for you,” in what sense do we use the word for?

God Does Not Need You

If you are singing and praying and praising and preaching in order to do for God what you and your friends did for that sickly and needy man, you have insulted God. Now, why do I say that? Consider what the apostle Paul said in his speech on Mars Hill:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24–25)

Simply put, God does not need you or me. He is altogether self-sufficient, dependent on no one. He is, in fact, the one who is responsible for the existence and preservation of all life, yours and mine. Therefore, he cannot be “served” as if he were needy or exhausted or weak or lacking something that only you and I and the people of your church can supply.

To arrive on a Sunday morning and declare to God, “We are here for you,” in the sense that you believe there is something you can give to God that he doesn’t already have, or that you can shore up a weakness, or fill a gap or overcome a deficiency, is to insult God to the very core of his being.

That is why we must be extremely careful that we are never there for God in the sense in which we might be there for an invalid or someone who is destitute of the resources to care for himself.

Here to Be Refreshed

But let’s go back to your gracious and loving service for your friend who is bedridden. Let’s assume that after your hard day at work in his yard in one-hundred-degree temperatures, you are desperately thirsty.

Suddenly there appears a truck at the curb, offering ice-cold, refreshing water. You run up to the driver and say, “We are here for you.” Your obvious intent is that you are there for what the driver can supply. You don’t pretend to bring him anything other than your thirst. You are desperate for refreshment. Without it, you will faint. You are there humbly asking him for what he alone can provide: life-giving, thirst-quenching, soul-refreshing water.

“We don’t bring anything to God in corporate worship that he doesn’t already have. Nothing except our need for him.”

That is how we are here for God in worship. We cannot add to his resources as if he were in lack. He is infinite and immeasurably abundant and needs nothing from us. Rather, we are here for God in the sense that we need him as a thirsty man needs water, as a hungry traveler needs food, as a bankrupt beggar needs money, as a guilty soul needs forgiveness, as a broken heart needs healing, as a lost sinner needs salvation. That is why we are here for God. Only he can supply what we lack. Only he can give us what we need.

If we gather for God, thinking that he stands in need of us, we insult him. But if we gather for God to drink deeply and feast upon all that he is for us in Jesus, we honor him.

By the way, we should give Matt Redman credit for making this quite clear in his song. If we ask of the lyrics, “Why are you here for God?” the answer is clear:

     Let Your breath come from heaven
     Fill our hearts with Your life

The worshiper comes not to infuse God with breath, but to receive it from him. The worshiper makes no pretense at filling up what is lacking in God, but cries out that God fill his heart with divine and supernatural life.

Such is how a simple, short, three-letter word can be used either to denigrate and dishonor God, or to honor and extol him.

May it always be the latter when we come together and say, “We are here for you.”