Worship Reveals What We Most Value
Let me begin with a story. It’s the summer of 2014. The night was cooling as twilight ascended upon the park. The seventy-five-foot blow-up screen was ready, the movie queued, and the crowd humming with excitement, well at least those girls under the age of 10--and there were hundreds of them. For the past two hours, little girls in princess dresses stood waiting in line for a photo op with their favorite princess. Just before the outdoor showing of Disney’s Frozen, the actresses who had been the object of excitement for hundreds of little girls gathered the masses for a sing-a-long. The music began to an all-too-familiar tune, but as parents gave a small groan for yet another round through the all-to-familiar song, the outdoor arena erupted with the singing of hundreds of little voices… “let it go, let it go.” You can just hear them now. I stood back, half-embarrassed at the response, but in awe at the natural tendency of humans, no matter what age, to worship. Though their worship was wrongly placed upon fictional characters who, as their audience would mature, would lose their fond affection. Yet, this much was obvious, they held it right now. The girls were singing at the top of their lungs--a delightful sing-along with their favorite princess would probably be a fond memory for these kids for some time. Be it Football games or princess sing-a-longs, one thing is certain, we were created to worship.
Reformer, Theologian, and Pastor John Calvin wrote: “Those, therefore, who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.”1 We are creatures created to worship. Period. We will either worship the Creator or someone or something of our own childish imaginations. It is innate in how we were created. The question is not will you worship, but who and what will you worship? Will you worship the true and living God, the only One deserving of worship. Or will you worship a lesser god?
Often when we think of worship, we think of singing and music. Though singing is a method of worship, it is not synonymous with worship. Worship essentially is assigning value to something. We give our attention and affection to that which is most valuable to us. When we begin to invest much of our time and our resources into something other than God, we are in danger of elevating it to an unhealthy level, which scripture labels as idolatry.
In John 4:19-24, Jesus is questioned regarding the method of worship by a Samaritan woman. He ignores the question and speaks instead to the motivation, the underlying attitude rather than the outward action, declaring worship is a spiritual offering according to the Truth of God's Word. Worship in spirit is not exclusively an emotional or mystical experience. Instead, it transcends outward, physical actions and reaches the inward man, the spirit, directing our attention and affection toward God, who is Spirit (Jn. 4:24). Although one may give an offering of worship through music; worship is not music. True worship is a disposition of humility, reverence, and awe directed toward God. Jewish men wear a piece of cloth on their heads called a Yarmulke or Kippah, as an aid to remember that God alone is above. No matter how important, wealthy, or influential one becomes, God always stands above. We would do well to emulate their attitude of humility in our worship.
To have the right attitude, Truth must be present. Theology and Doxology must both be present for orthodox worship. As Pastor/songwriter/author Matt Boswell wrote, “Worship should not to be driven by pragmatism, but informed by the Word of God. There must be a marriage between theology and doxology.”2
Or consider what pastor/rapper Shai Linne states in the introduction to his Lyrical Theology Part 2 hip-hop album:
"Theology is the study of God and it's very important; Doxology is an expression of praise to God. So, the point here is that all theology should ultimately lead to Doxology. If theology doesn't lead to Doxology, then we've actually missed the point of theology. So if you have theology without Doxology, you just have dead, cold orthodoxy. Which is horrible, right? On the other side, we have people who say: "Ugh! Forget theology; I just wanna praise!" Right? But, if we have Doxology without theology, we actually have idolatry! Because it's just a random expression of praise, but it's not actually informed by the Truth of who God is So, God is concerned with both! He's concerned with an accurate understanding of Him; And that accurate understanding of Him, leading to a response of praise, adoration and worship towards Him."3
At the core, worship is a disposition of humility formed by the Truth of God's Word. A true worshipper has an honest view of themself and their need for God’s grace. A true worshipper is less concerned with their passionate expression than about the truth that governs their lives. Consider the following questions:
- Are you living according to the truth of Scripture?
- Does your life reflect an attitude of humility toward God?
- Do you see your great need for God’s grace and cannot keep from praising God when you think of what he has done to restore you?
- Does your life (word & deed) demonstrate that He is most valuable to you?
The worshipper acknowledges the great and awesome God who has condescended to earth, took on flesh (John 1) to live the perfect, sinless life we couldn’t, not even the best of us. Additionally, Christ endured the punishment that was rightly ours. Though he was sinless, he became the sacrifice to cover sin, satisfying God’s wrath, and redeeming man (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Jesus in my place. This is the good news of the Gospel and those who hear it worship in awe of a gracious and loving God. May you and I worship Jesus for who he is and what he has done to the glory of his name.
1 Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion (p. 25). Digireads.com. Kindle Edition.
2 Boswell, Matt. Doxology and Theology: How the Gospel Forms... (p. 7). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
3 Linne, Shai. Lyrical Theology Part 2: Doxology, Doxology Intro