Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Worship God

Revelation 19:9-10 (New International Version)

“9Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
“10At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

The title of this post may seem redundant. It’s not. There are many objects that seem to demand our worship – our intellect, our needs, beauty, love, money, our husbands or wives. There are more clamoring for our attention. I’m sure you can by now either think of them or visualize them as you read.

This past Sunday we learned (for us) a new chorus in church. It’s titled “Here I Am to Worship” and it’s written by a fella’ named Tim Hughes. While I’m more inclined toward older, more traditional music, the words and music really moved me. The words follow:

"Light of the world You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with You

So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God!
You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days, oh so highly exalted
Glorious in heaven above
Humbly You came to earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor

I’ll never know how much it costs
To see my sin upon that cross!

I’ll never know how much it costs
To see my sin upon that cross!"
(CCLI License No. 2368)

I believe that Tim Hughes has captured some of the essence of what worship is all about. That’s rare these days of “self-actualization.”

Worship should be the core of what the Church is all about. I think almost everyone can agree on that. But, what does it mean to worship?

Biblically, it means this:

“proskuneo pros-koo-neh'-o from 4314 and a probable derivative of 2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):--worship.”

That’s vivid imagery!

Think of it! Worship is the place where we need to adopt an attitude of subservience. In worship our posture should be one of creature meeting Creator. All too often, though, it seems to be a time of bargaining. We drop money in the plate and like almost everything else in our consumer oriented society we expect value in return. That’s the polite way to put it. More directly it means this. We expect God to deliver because we’ve paid for the goods and services He offers.

Years ago a friend told me that we all just had to worship “in our own way.” I took it at face value at first, but over the years I’ve come to re-think what he told me. I wonder what might happen, for example, if Nancy and I were invited to the White House to attend a great formal function, with leaders from all nations of the world. Would we just show up “our way” and expect to be admitted?

Now while worship has little to do with how we’re dressed, it does have a lot to do with our attitude of heart. Worship is not for the “wheeler-dealer” or the person with the “Frank Sinatra” syndrome. It’s not a showcase for talents. It’s a place where our hearts should be laid bare before the Almighty God.

The Bible is full of images of worship. I’ll cite two for your edification. The first is the prophet Isaiah’s encounter with God in what the prophet called “the year King Uzziah died:”

Isaiah 6:1-7 (New International Version)

Isaiah 6

Isaiah's Commission

“1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

The second is from John’s encounter with God described in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 5 (New International Version)

Revelation 5

The Scroll and the Lamb

“1Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[
a] of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twentyfour elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

I submit to you, dear reader, that neither Isaiah nor John were "wheeler-dealers" in these encounters. They were worshippers.

Having heard Tim Hughes’ words this past Sunday I sense that they weren’t meant for “wheeler-dealers.” In simple, contemporary language they called us to prostrate ourselves before the Almighty God, to transcend ourselves and "kiss the Son."
That, I believe, is what worship is all about.


td said...

At my church, here recently, we have been learning a bit about what TRUE worship is. "The Air I Breathe" by Louie Giglio is a good resource, as well as "The Unquenchable worshipper" by Matt Redman. I (and other college students at my church) recently returned from the Passion 2005 conference, in which about 12,000 students got to spend three days doing nothing but trying to better draw themselves to God. Amazing experience. Thanks for the post - good blog.

Anonymous said...

No one can be humble "on purpose." Our worship is of no more value or accurate than our perception of the Lord's worthiness. Our failure occurs as a result of a lack of perception. "Religion," tradition, and ritual become the norm. Not good enough! Ignoring The Word and expecting leadership to fill the void is not workable and an insult to God: Neither hot nor cold. Get hot. Read The Word. Grasping His worthiness is the first order of business. Worship follows the bending knee of the spirit, heart, and mind. What/who are we waiting for? Answer: Read The Word.

Joel 3:14

Pastor Mike said...

You have caused me to step a bit deeper into the stream.

osteinz said...

Thanks, Phil.

Love the song myself. Worship is a response to the attributes of God.