Things I Suspect About Worship

I’m no expert about worship. Frankly, I’m not sure I “get” it at all.

Sometimes my heart is engaged. Sometimes I’m just going through the motions. Sometimes I’m focused. Other times I’m distracted. Sometimes I’m with others. Sometimes I’m by myself.

But these are a few of the things I suspect about it:

  • God wants us to worship Him because it’s good for us to realize how much we should depend on Him … not because He needs to hear it.
  • Worship was never meant to make us comfortable. Frankly, the whole idea of sacrifice at the heart of it makes me really uncomfortable, because it pounds into my brain that sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath; that graceleadstolife graceleadstolife graceleadstolife; and that despite all of my best efforts I am going to be and imperfect, bumbling, pitiful failure at the morality game. And bringing up sacrifice only weekly, or just at Easter – instead of daily – makes it a bit more comfortable for me.
  • Worship has to come from the heart, not from an indexed book of rules with check-mark boxes beside each one, legislating every conceivable “thou shalt” and “shalt not” with regard to the way I express my bewildered awe of the Creator.
  • Worship in spirit and in truth – despite all the ways I’ve heard it explained – is a concept that still somehow eludes me, and I wonder if that’s intentional.
  • When Jesus brought up the subject of worship in spirit and in truth, it wasn’t a command. It was a prophecy. For some it has already come true. For me – and I’d bet a lot of others – it’s mostly yet to happen.
  • Worship can’t be forced. If it could, there’d be a lot more rules about it. Sure, quote your Old Testament chapters at me all you want. Underlying them all is still the plain fact that people need and should want to worship God; to understand that He is a jealous God; to feel that He is a loving God; to accept that He is a just God; to be drawn closer to Him as a Father God. And that it calls for extraordinary effort.
  • Some ways that you worship God are probably really different than some ways I do. A few of mine wouldn’t make sense to you or “speak” to you at all; and vice-versa. My guess is that I don’t have a right to require you to adopt mine any more than you should expect me to adopt yours. The final arbiter on any given point would be God, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t pleasing Him be the goal? Wouldn’t it please Him for me to feed you by participating in the ways that nourish your spirit, and for you to reciprocate for my hunger? Could that be why He calls us to dine together in the first place?
  • Seeing, hearing, experiencing God’s activity in the world persuades me to want to worship Him. Walling myself off from God’s activity with anything – especially my own activity – has the opposite effect.
  • Worship is virtually impossible when the name of Jesus isn’t even mentioned, except maybe to close a prayer or a casual reference in communion. He’s the Go-Between. The Intercessor. The Mediator. The One whose Spirit interprets the groanings of us pitiful would-be’s to the incomprehensible language of the Great I AM.

That’s just a few of them. I suspect more, but I’m feeling distant and grumpy and cold right now, and not in the mood to search them out and confirm them among the shouts and pleas and whispers of His word.

I don’t “get” worship tonight because I might begin to “get” God … and I just don’t know if I could handle the change that it would make – and break – of my heart.

4 thoughts on “Things I Suspect About Worship

  1. Keith, I know this is a “duh”, but I think one of our biggest (if not THE biggest) errors…….gasp, we may have made one……..we may have made was to perpetuate the theology that “worship” is confined to what we do for an hour or so at the building. I love Romans 12 when discussing this topic! Worship is 24/7….as is repentance, discipleship, grace, obedience, love, faith, etc. Why can’t we get that? 🙂Great thoughts, bro! I wish you posted more… EVERY day! DU

  2. I’ve always wondered why we sing “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” Why would praise be a sacrifice? Maybe because it’s not our norm to praise someone who is not ourselves? Maybe it’s easier for us to complain than praise?Maybe it ties into your comment about how much we depend on God? I’, not sure, but it’s a phrase that always stands out as a bit odd to me.

  3. I can’t help but think that some of our limiting concepts of worship come from the picture of the Old Testament Temple. God is THERE in the Holy of Holies. Our “going to church” is like going to where God is. David knew God’s presence wasn’t limited to the Temple and until we learn that, our view of worship will also be limited.Brother you always challenge my heart and for that I am thankful.

  4. Keith, I agree with just about all of this, would maybe restate your first point a little differently. I’m not sure God doesn’t need to hear it from us. He chose the pattern of marriage to illustrate his relationship to Israel, and Christ’s relationship to the church, in several places. (Hosea springs to mind). In fact, I have thought many times that He set up the institution of marriage partly to point us there, as well as for the obvious family and societal benefits. If this is a good analogy, I think God needs to hear us say it as much as I need to know my spouse loves me, and need to hear it. Worship is definitely needed by us, but I think it is desired by Him, as well.Another way to put it is that His name is holy, set apart, important and sacred to Him. When Moses was bargaining with Him on behalf of the children of Israel, his reasoning with God was that if He destroyed them, those around would say that He was able to save them from the Egyptians, but it was for naught. In other words, it would defame the name of the Lord. It seemed to do the trick, and is a legitimate way to approach the Lord, calling on Him to act on behalf of His own name. God has a need to be honored, and desires it.Another thought: we are made in His image, and we desire for people to honor us (whether we admit it or not). Why wouldn’t that be a part of His nature as well?So there.

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