The name “Jesus Christ” is beautiful, warm, powerful, convicting, and inviting. The name “Jesus” informs us that God incarnated Himself in the person of His Son. The name of Jesus Christ reminds us that our God walked this stony earth with us, suffered for us, and was tempted in every way possible while maintaining absolute perfection and sinlessness. The name of Jesus tells us that God sent a Savior who occupied space and time on this planet.
Why, then, is Jesus’ name too often absent, or seldom spoken, in much of our worship? For several years I have witnessed the disturbing trend of neglecting to mention Jesus’ name as we gather. On more occasions that I can remember, the name of Jesus has not been spoken in song or prayer in the worship service of a Baptist church, at least not spoken until the sermon portion of worship. We mention God, or Lord, or most often “You” and “Your” in our songs and prayers, but too often we don’t use the precious and powerful name of Jesus.
Recently I spoke with a fellow preacher and he mentioned speaking with someone who had attended a Jewish synagogue, and they said that they sang some of the same songs in the synagogue that we sing in church. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as those who attend Christian worship understand that the God we worship is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I have no objection to singing songs to God that use the pronoun “You” in the song. Such songs are prayers and can communicate the intimate relationship we have with our God. Praying in “Your Name” can communicate the same intimacy.
That said, it always concerns me when I stand to preach, after having worshipped for 20 or 30 minutes, and I am the first to mention Jesus’ name. I wonder whom guests, especially lost guests, think we are worshipping. I wonder about the children too, and what we are teaching them about the God who embodied Himself in flesh.
It is certainly not wrong to use the name “God” as we refer to our Creator. But I often remember walking into the home of a devout Muslim in Pakistan, surprised to see a plaque that read, “God Bless Our Home,” much like the one some of us have. I learned that the name “God” was not offensive to him at all, but the name “Jesus Christ” carried a content that he found most objectionable.
With all of this in mind, I would simply ask that you pay close attention to the theology and content of our worship services. Every song, every prayer, each utterance provides an opportunity to worship and to teach. And while I am on this subject, make sure you include in prayer “matters” that go beyond the immediate concerns of those in the room. Pray for the community and our leaders. Pray for the lost. Pray for gospel harvesters. Pray for the persecuted Christians, some of whom are being slaughtered for their faith. Pray for the missionaries. And pray for the children of our missionaries. There are thousands of missionary kids who are growing up overseas and their parents often struggle to educate them and prepare them for college in the United States.
Jesus’ name is precious and powerful. We love His name. In our worship services should speak Jesus’ name often, in prayer and song and sermon. It wouldn’t even hurt to welcome attenders in Jesus’ name!