worship is…

I thought I’d let some other folks have a shot at discussing worship, before I make my own feeble attempt:

Wonder is the basis of worship. — Thomas Carlyle

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love. — Henry Ward Beecher

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself. — Richard Francis Burton

There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings. — Friedrich Nietzsche

When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. — Indira Gandhi

To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God. — Sir William Temple

…Faith-filled suffering is essential in this world for the most intense, authentic worship. When we are most satisfied with God in suffering, he will be most glorified in us in worship. Our problem is not styles of music. Our problem is styles of life. When we embrace more affliction for the worth of Christ, there will be more fruit in the worship of Christ.  — John Piper

As worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. Holy obedience saves worship from becoming an opiate, an escape from the pressing needs of modern life. — Richard Foster

It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. — C.S. Lewis

Which of these are most relevant to us today?  Do you find any of these ideas to be untrue or misleading?  How would you define or describe worship?


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7 Comments

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7 responses to “worship is…

  1. randy morgan

    i find burton’s quote to be so timely as to be convicting. we live in a society of narcissists.

    i am also moved by piper’s quote. i have been thinking deeply on the correlation between suffering and intimacy.

  2. Jovan

    Wonder is the basis of worship. — Thomas Carlyle

    Wonder. Discovery. Passion

    These are three core values for our youth ministry taken from XP3 ministries.

    We emphasize the importance of having “A desire to marvel about God.” I wish to see more of that in me and the ministry i serve.

  3. randy, it’s somewhere in the back of my mind, but i remember having seen a video clip with john piper as voice-over. i believe the audio is from a sermon he gave in birmingham, alabama (my home state). anyway, he’s talking about a little girl who was hit by a car and killed — and what worship really means. i know that’s vague, but your comments reminded me of it — and if you haven’t heard that bit of audio or read text from that sermon, it would be worth finding…

  4. jovan, thanks for participating. what is xp3 ministries, and what does that stand for — assuming it’s not some random assortment of letters and a number? some of my favorite “moments of worship” have been before daylight on ascent days going up big mountains. i would just look up at the stars — or sometimes the clouds being peeled back to reveal stars — and stand in wonder of God and how big he is.

    on a sidenote, there’s a song i really like by van morrison called “sense of wonder.” it’s also the title of the album it’s on…

  5. and i have to say the foster quote is my favorite of the group. i love the idea of worship always ending in obedience. i think a lot of what we call worship is not — and a lack of obedience is a/the tell-tale sign.

    too often i’ve seen worship used basically as an escape from what God would actually desire us to do…

  6. Henry Beecher’s comment about not knowing how to worship until he knew how to love really hits home for me.

    When I am TRULY faithful, I am worshiping. Because if I BELIEVE that the Spirit of God is present in my life, I can’t NOT worship Him. It’s impossible when I am filled with faith because His Love is far too great for me to ignore.

  7. Ike

    Not only does authentic worship begin with a true vision of the living God, but second, authentic worship leads to a confession of sin, both individual and corporate. We see it directly in this passage: “And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” What did Isaiah do? He said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah was “undone,” when he had seen the true and living God, when he saw God in his holiness. He came to know the majestic, moral nature of this God, and he came to see God’s righteousness and his holiness. In reflection, Isaiah automatically saw his own utter sinfulness. He could not otherwise understand himself but as a sinner who was, by his own words here, undone, dissolved–silenced. He saw himself doomed to die.

    I want to suggest that this must happen in our worship as well, “the cringe factor” aside. If we do not come face to face with our sin as individuals and as a congregation, I do not believe we have seen God, and we have not worshiped Him. How could it be otherwise than that, meeting Him in worship, we see ourselves as sinners? Isaiah spoke both individually and corporately. He said of himself, “I am a man of unclean lips.” His confession is tainted. His testimony is impure. Isaiah saw himself to the core, and understanding himself perhaps for the very first time, saw himself as God saw him. As he stands before God, he says, “I am undone.” True worship takes place among the people of God when we come face to face with our sins and confess them, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9-10).

    Psalm 51:1-4 models this kind of confession: “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.”

    Any parent knows the difference between a genuine apology and a “get off the hook apology,” a quick “sorry, sorry,” as the child runs off down the hall. There is the contrite broken heart of one who knows he or she has done wrong, has offended a moral standard that is not arbitrary, but fixed, and insulted the one true and living God. That is what Isaiah has done. Yet I fear so much of what we think is confession is not confession at all. It is just a hasty half-apology, not the kind of brokenness we see in Psalm 51. We must be brought face to face with our sin.

    Third, authentic worship will lead to a display of redemption. A display of redemption means the proclamation of the gospel. What we see in Isaiah 6:6-7 is a display of redemption: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with the tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.'”

    This scene is clearly an anticipation of the work of Christ. It is a unilateral act of God. It is a unilateral propitiatory sacrifice. It is a picture of atonement. Isaiah brought absolutely nothing. Isaiah had been brought face to face with his sin and now realizes redemption is all of grace, and that it is costly. The coal, after all, came from the altar, not from a campfire.

    Reflecting on this two-stage movement, Martin Luther said that Isaiah saw himself first as he truly is–a sinner who was undone, and next as one who experienced this redemption. Luther states, “But it turned out for the salvation of the prophet that he was thus thrust down to hell, so that he might be led away and lead others away from that uncleanness of the Law to the purity of Christ, so that he alone might reign. Here now a resurrection from the dead takes place.” That must happen in our worship as well. True worship requires seeing the true and living God and then seeing ourselves as we actually are in our sinfulness. Turning to God through confession, we experience the display and declaration of redemption.

    True worship always proclaims the gospel, the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ. It proclaims the work of Christ and it centers in the cross. With the apostle Paul we say, “In the cross of Christ we glory.” We proclaim liberty to the captive, grace and pardon to all who believe in His name. If sinners come to Him, He will by no means cast them out.

    Fourth, given what God has done, authentic worship requires a response. Isaiah recounts, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” (v. 8) We see in this passage a sending out similar to Matthew 28:18-20, when the Lord commanded his disciples, “All authority is given to me under heaven and earth; therefore, go.” He makes very clear in the Great Commission that those disciples were to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded them.

    Worship calls for an ongoing response seen in the proclamation of the gospel, in evangelism, and in missions. If our worship is weakened, our missionary witness will be weakened as well. We will forget the God who has sent us. We will neglect the content of the message of redemption with which he has sent us.

    One recent writer on worship has commented, “It is not how you worship. It’s who you worship.” I would argue that the who determines the how. Does that mean that all issues are absolutely simplified and we can turn to scripture and see a specific outline of order for every week’s corporate worship? No. Does it mean that there is no diversity and should be no diversity in worship? No. Does it mean that styles will change? Yes. Does it mean that there will be a diversity of styles in worship? Yes. We must make a distinction, however, between style and form. The biblical form must be constantly followed. The biblical pattern must always be honored. There will be different styles, there will be different languages, there will be a different vernacular for each people, and there will be different contexts, but the essential marks of true Christian worship must always be present.

    We must not be satisfied with a laissez-faire, cafeteria-style worship combination at our pleasure. There is a biblical pattern that must be followed. Will styles change? Yes. But the worship must always be God directed. Will there be a diversity of styles in worship? Yes, but there must be one glorious purpose following this clear biblical pattern: to measure everything by the norm of scripture, in which God has revealed how He wishes to be worshiped. We must learn from each other in this process that as the people of God we must get this right as we stand before God and under scripture.

    We were created to worship God. The whole story of our redemption retells how we were created to worship God but by our sin became disqualified from that true and authentic worship. By God’s redemption in Jesus Christ, we were created anew for the purpose of worshiping God. And every glimpse of heaven we have in Scripture indicates that worship will be our eternal occupation. It is for that purpose that we are being prepared even in the present.

    Posted by Truth Matters

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