A LIFE WITH GOD AND PEOPLE
“Probably, the most common and widespread view [of worship] is that worship is something which we, religious people, do-mainly in church. We go to church, we sing our psalms and hymns to God, we intercede for the world, we listen to the sermon, we offer our money, time and talents to God.” (1) I’ve been in services where praise and worship songs are sung that extol what we are going to do for God. ‘Good luck with that’ I thought.
I’ve been in other services where the closest they get to praise and worship is to sing the Doxology, after which the saints would say, ‘Wont it be good when we get to heaven!’ It is lost on them that Heaven is among us now in the incarnation and by the Holy Spirit. That’s if we do not live in dualism and dichotomy.
I had a lecturer once who loathed the hymn, ‘ I come to the Garden Alone, while the dew is still on the Roses, and I walk with Him and I talk with Him…’ Seemingly this hymn was not morbid enough for his kind of religion – or too intimate for a person raised in deism.
WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE
Contemporary ‘praise and worship’ when compared to the inherent dualism of hymns that often assume a separation between God and ourselves and - which seem to offer a more Queen Victoria view of God than a Jesus view of God - can direct our praise directly to where our praise belongs: The living Christ who deserves our praise because He is so wonderful, because He is God and because He has made Himself ours. This kind of praise can undo the layers of the material world that encrust us. It joins us to the real presence of Christ who is already here, with us an in us. Therefore, the best worship leaders do not offer a discourse on the song. They are the song.
WORSHIP IS A LIFE
Worship is the lived presence of God – without religiosity and with praise for the creation in which we dwell. A fundamentalist parent took me to task once for telling the class that thanking Jesus for the sun and the surf while at the beach was a good thing to do.
Nevertheless, for me, ‘worship is a life.’ Jesus taught this to The Woman at the Well when he said, Father is looking for sons and daughters who worship Him in spirit and in truth. This is to say with our whole being and in the vicarious humanity of Jesus. Therefore, wholesome worship may not be found so much in fundamentalism and hardly ever in legalism. It’s found when we are in Christ and Christ is in us – which is our inheritance of companionship with Christ in the world.
WORSHIP COMES FROM CHRIST OUR LIFE
Worship in fullness is not legalistic, nor religious or an abstraction in which we are separate to the words we are singing.
WORSHIP IS LIVED ONENESS WITH GOD
A better view of worship is that it is “The gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son's communion with the Father. It means participating in union with Christ, in what he has done for us once and for all, in his self-offering to the Father, in his life and death on the cross. It also means participating in what he is continuing to do for us in the presence of the Father and in his mission from the Father to the world. There is only one true Priest through whom and with whom we draw near to God our Father. There is only one Mediator between God and humanity. There is only one offering which is truly acceptable to God, and it is not ours. It is the offering by which he has sanctified for all time those who come to God by him (Heb 2:11; 10:10, 14).” (2)
Worship is participating in God which is not difficult and not a piety because Christ has come in our flesh, which is to say, Jesus lives in our being. The cool thing is that because of Christ, we live in God.
*An English hymn written in 1674.
(1) James B Torrance. Worship, Community and the Triune Grace of God. P 20-21.