Sunday, August 12, 2007
What is worship?
What do YOU worship?
How do you worship?
Do you worship?
While staying with my friends in the USA this summer, I went to an evening service at their church. Their church is awesome. It has a great heart and is impacting its community with the love of Christ. It is a big church of national influence. However, several things got my brain ticking over. Their worship (like many big churches) is outstanding musically. Top quality musicians, full on sound and lights and 5 large screens to boot! I know their worship leaders have a heart for God. Yet, in the midst of it all I was disturbed. I saw a lot of people really getting into it and yet I craved just one space to be able to be still and be reverent. Don’t get me wrong … I love loud worship times … I have led worship and played in worship bands in big and small churches. Mostly though, I love being in God’s presence. I love those times when people are just caught up in reverence of God … times where we are still … when no words suffice … all we can do is stand. Stillness is not something many of our churches are comfortable with. If there is a space, the temptation is to fill it! What do we think worship is? I am concerned that many people are worshipping worship – not God. We need to be careful. Are we being mindful or mindless in worship?
For the time is coming when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the father seeks. God is spirit and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of worshipper that God seeks out. If God seeks out the type of worshipers listed above, then lets see what it actually means to worship this way. A scripture I used a few blogs ago is highly applicable here.
John 3 (The Message)
Everyone who makes a practice of evil ... addicted to denial and illusion ... work can be seen for the God work that it is
What does it mean to worship in Spirit and Truth?
We are exhorted to worship God in Spirit and Truth. If this is what God is looking for ... shouldn’t this be something that we pursue?! I want to pick up on two things here ... HONESTY and WORSHIP. This last passage from The Message has the phrase “addicted to denial and illusion ...fearing a painful exposure ...
I discussed this Scripture and the temptation to live in denial and illusion in Get Real. Basically, two questions arise when reading this scripture … (recapping here)
1. What is it that causes us to live in denial and illusion and why do we fear exposure?
Often we take the obvious answer ... “if people really see us as we are they won’t accept us”. This strikes at one of human kind’s most basic needs - the need to be loved, valued and accepted - we are created for relationship.
2. What causes us to live in denial to ourselves?
Self protection. If we admit that we are weak or fail - admit our issues and struggles then maybe we have to admit that everything else WE’VE built (facades ... our life in our control) is built on a lie. The fact is we are not self sufficient. We must be dependent on God. This brings us face to face with who we are and who God is - can be quite a scary thought!
It is only when we step into the exposure of the light that God can begin to clean us up and craft us into his art pieces. The Message goes on in this passage and says “But anyone living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God work it is. We will be seen as God’s reflection rather than ours!
There is such release in this. Breenan Manning in his book Lion and the Lamb says, “God’s love is based on nothing and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure”.
Jimmy Abegg says, “we are Ragamuffins, much loved by God in the midst of all our short comings and failures”.
I love the statement that Rich Mullins makes ... God does not call us to be angels; he calls us to be HIS.
This is the heart of worship ... to be captured ... to be Gods. I was reading in Psalm 45 the other day ... “be here” - the King is WILD for you - since he’s your Lord, adore him”. Its all about him. To worship we need to be vulnerable, We also need to be focused. Where is our mind - our heart - here in the moment, or off on the things we have waiting to do!
John 4:23 in The Message says “your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the father is looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in worship ...”
Lets break open that scripture
Engage: employ (use time energy etc to good effect); become interlocked; come into battle with, pledge oneself;” Become interlocked - we connect to God - become one with him. Worship is intimate. Engage is also an active verb not a passive one. Worship is active - a bit like a car - until the gears are engaged the car goes nowhere - we must engage our spirits.
Spirit:- Pneuma. Breath - like wind - it is akin to the Hebrew for ruach - the very spirit, life essence of God.
Truth:- Aletheia: - the reality lying at the basis of an appearance; the manifested veritable essence of a matter”. focus on the first part - reality lying at the base of an appearance - come back to being engaged and being HERE - what do we look like and what are we doing on the inside?!
Worship:- What does it mean to worship?
“Proskuneo” - the actual picture for this word is like a dog licking it’s master hand - the translation coming from this picture means “to kiss, to fawn or crouch - prostrate oneself in homage”.
Have you ever had a dog? When you have been out and come home that dog is so thrilled to see you - in that moment ... in the NOW, nothing exists for the dog but the fact that you are here - licks, bounces ... great joy! But in addition to this a well adjusted dog will generally roll over on its back - it submits to you. This single focus and submission are key parts of our worship.
The other thing you often catch dogs doing (well mine used to) is sitting close and gazing at you - David is like this in Psalm 27:4 ... One thing I ask of the Lord - one thing I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord ...” Mary had caught this as well - she sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha ran around!
Worshippers - “proskunetes” - means to be an adorer!
Seek - “Zeteo” - to seek for - to desire - to covet earnestly - require or demand. The Oxford adds an extra component to this definition - single out for companionship”.
If I was to rephrase John 4 incorporating all those meanings it would come out something like:
True adorers of Jesus will adore, worship, kiss and submit to the father with all that they are - with the very essence of their being - no appearances. What you see is who they are - no pretence. This is the type of person (an adorer) the father covets, These are the ones he will single out for companionship”.
Jn 3:24 (The Message) says: God is sheer being himself - Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves in adoration”.
This is deep calling deep, the essence of God calling from the essence of man - the thing we are - the aletheia - the reality lying at the basis of our appearance - is our spirit. So lets reach out and be honest and vulnerable and engage with God - make him our single focus as we seek to worship him in our lives.