Worship Worthy of the Name
Worship is seeing what God is worth and giving him what he's worth.
Also of Interest
Dan Wakefield, a writer who moved to New York in the 1950s, was originally from Indiana. When he arrived in New York, he completely overturned his Baptist roots and became a bohemian. In one of his books, he describes how he wanted nothing to do with the values of middle America. He completely rid himself of religion.
Now, however, he's near 60 years old, ostensibly needing spiritual meaning, and attends a liturgical church. Why? Probably because to him, the church feels safe, it's connected with history, it doesn't feel like a fly-by-night operation, and it is more satisfying aesthetically.
Historic liturgy often appeals to a certain kind of person. It opens doors to the heart that the art of pop culturedrums and guitarscan't.
Personally, I like both. Each form of art opens different doors into my soul. But each form must have at its core true worship. It all begins with this question: What is true worship?
Instinct Run Amok
At our deepest level, we were created for worship. But this instinct has gone awry.
Jonathan Edwards spoke of religious affectionsthat core of our being that orients our mind, will, and emotions toward an object. Sin has caused our affections to stray, propelling us to worship relationships, achievement, workeverything but God. Alfred Adler would say we gravitate toward control or power or comfort or approval.
We obsess about those things, comfort ourselves with them, fantasize about them. Biblically speaking, those things are idols. Worship is pulling our affections off our idols and putting them on God.
The word worship comes from an Old English word meaning "worth-ship." I define worship as a private act that has two parts: seeing what God is worth and giving him what he's worth.
Job says, "I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." When I treasure something, I longingly look at it, for example, in the store window and think about how great it would be to own it. I ponder its virtues, talk to my friends about how great it is. Then I go out and buy it.
Worship is treasuring God: I ponder his worth and then do something about itI give him what he's worth. Every approach to worship must have those two elements.
The only difference between private and public worship is that in public worship, individuals are doing it in concert with others. In a team of six horses, each horse is affected by the speed and direction of the other five. The same is true of corporate worshipit's individuals worshiping God in harness.
If the minister is talking about the holiness of God, for example, I'm seeing God's holiness in concert with the congregation. Together, God's people are in harness, letting the worship leader guide them so they can respond to God individually by giving him what he is worth.
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