Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Reflecting on Worship

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Each week millions of Christians around the globe gather to worship God. Worship is central to the Christian faith. Many Christians may never enter a church building or place of worship Monday through Saturday, but they dare not miss the call to worship on Sunday. There is something about worship that keeps people coming back each week. Some do out of obligation. Others do it because of what they get out of it. Some scholars suggest that we were created to worship. It is an innate desire within us, and when we engage in worship we are merely doing what we were created to do. Whatever the reasons may be for why Christians worship, no one can deny the importance of this act of faith.

Although worship is a regular ritual Christians participate in, it has not received the amount of attention that other aspects of Christianity have received. Ben Witherington in his brief treatise on worship laments,

I have been surprised to discover how very little time New Testament scholars spend talking about it, or even about the texts in the Bible that describe worship. I have looked in vain for good textbooks written by biblical scholars on what the Bible, or even just the New Testament, says about worship. As Shakespeare would say, this is ‘passing strange,’ especially since worship is something most of us are involved in every single week.

Worship is central to Christianity, and yet in some cases it has not received the deep reflection it deserves. We worship on a regular basis, but how often do we think through the things we are doing? Our intent behind worship is just as important as the act itself and this involves us thinking through our worship.

God intended worship to be a regular act because it is something that forms and shapes us. We are continually being molded into the image of Christ and so this time of formation is essential. Worship also needs to be an act we regularly engage in because it grounds us as we go out into a world marred by sin. Worship reminds us of whom we belong to. Our identity is found in Christ and not in other things we are tempted to latch on to. Worship also looks both backward and forward. It reminds us we are a small part of a great big story. We look back on creation, the exodus, the prophets, and Jesus and we see God’s presence among his people. We look back on these events in order to catch a glimpse of God and understand why he alone is deserving of our worship. Worship is also something that looks forward. We gather each first day of the week to be reminded that the kingdom is now, but not yet. All things have not been redeemed, and so we join God in making all things right. We work towards God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Another important aspect of worship is that it be counter-cultural. This term has been used of Christianity from time to time, and rightly so, but I think we should also use it of our worship. Worship is not about the culture we live in or even ourselves. The focus of worship is God. Our worship should first and foremost be about God, but secondly I think it should remind us that we are pilgrims searching for a home. When visitors attend a Christian worship service they should be moved by our counter-cultural worship. The world is busy, but on the day of worship we slow down. The world is loud and in your face, but during worship we bow our heads and remain quiet. The world is obsessed with American Idol, but in worship we all sing and it is a pleasing sound to God. We should quit trying to be like the world when it comes to worship and just worry about trying to faithfully reflect the Christian faith.

In the coming weeks I and several guest writers will be reflecting on the subject of worship from many different angles. We will not cover everything, but hopefully we will challenge you to think through the subject of worship. I believe it is something that deserves more of our attention and I hope you will join us on this journey. Feel free to engage the articles and challenge myself or any of the other writers as we study this subject together.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Psalm 95:6

Bibliography

Witherington, Ben. We Have Seen His Glory: A Vision of Kingdom Worship (Grand Rapids: Eedrmans, 2010)

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