I have heard many times from people who have the noble objective of recovering a God-centeredness in worship that our music is not for people–it’s for God.
Now, I understand and applaud the sentiment behind a statement like this. If by this statement they mean that God should be the center and focus of our worship, then I agree completely.
However, I do not think God cares about our music per se. Well, he cares, but not as if he listens to the music itself and somehow “evaluates” our worship based on what we sing.
No, what God cares most about in our worship is our hearts.
What God is looking for are those who will worship him in spirit and truth; he delights in hearts that offer up acceptable worship in reverence and awe, hearts that respond with appropriate affections to his character and truth, hearts that delight in him for who he is and what he has done.
So music is not what God listens for; he listens for the heart of worship.
But this does not mean that music in worship is unimportant. It is critically important, not because music is for God, but because music is the language of the heart. It both gives expression to what is in our spirits and instructs the heart in what and how to express. Music shapes the heart’s ability to express certain affections.
My concerns about the music we choose for worship is not based on the fact that music is for God, it is based on the fact that certain kinds of music can either help or hinder the kinds of heart expressions of ordinate affection to God in worship that he does desire.
So the most important step in evaluating our music choices in worship is first to discern from Scripture what kinds of affections are appropriate for expression to God. Then we must ask, does this kind of music help or hinder these appropriate expressions?