Friday, December 20, 2013

The Heart of Worship (isn't us)

Leave yourself at the door.
"You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, to this end: that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto You forever." Ps. 30:11-12

It is the goodness of God in all its facets that drives our worship and nothing else. We do not worship out of fear, either of His power or His wrath, His great strength or His great fury. We do not worship out of duty, following the formalities and commands of maxims and generations. And we do not worship a mercenary goodness, one we must continually purchase or be cut off. Other gods have demanded worship out of fear, duty, or bribery, but our God is not shallow like them. He is greater than they, and our worship is substanced with greater things, i.e., true love and joy coming in response to eternal, fundamental Goodness that comes without a price (Is. 55:1-3).

Gasp! Not about me?
This is a radical notion of worship, not only because it smashes the legalistic and pagan view of worship by fear or duty or bribery, but also because it smashes the sentimentalist view that worship is centered on us: our sincerity, our emotions, our needs. Such things do play a part, but only as fruit plays a part in a tree. They are not the center, just as we are not the center. Worship is not a subjective experience. It is our subjective response to our subjective experience of the objective reality that is God and His goodness towards us. Our emotional fervor, in any degree, is not the point of worship but rather a natural effect of the real point: the contemplation and comprehension (however slight) of God and His goodness. Without that objective center to fixate our subjective minds and hearts, worship becomes an empty, narcissistic affair, a chorus of clanging gongs and crashing cymbals.

Common sense. And physics.
It is objective reality that creates worship. It is truth that creates wonder and awe. I cannot stress this point enough. Our generation has bought the lie that wonder comes from ignorance, and thus objective, absolute truth must be doubted into oblivion. It is a tragic, evil thing because we are left twisting in the wind without waypoint or guide, and eventually our wonder will dissolve into confusion, frustration, and despair. Only fixed truth creates wonder. Only objective reality creates worship. It is the strong anchor point that allows a kite to fly. It is a strong, gripping root system that allows a tree to grow so tall and flourish so brightly. That is common sense, a common sense we abandon the instant we talk about the most important thing: God.

The road to modern "worship."
My generation has been deceived. We think we worship in the dark because it is dark, but that is a lie. We worship in the light because it is light. There may be blindness in both cases (for you may be blinded by an excess of light as well as an absence), but in the case of light we are blinded by something. In the dark we are blinded by nothing. That difference, so simple and obvious, makes all the difference in the world, both in worship itself and life in general. Is there really something there to which you respond? Or is it just you, alone in the dark, with no way of knowing what's really out there? Your answer will literally shape your world, either into a world of glorious light creating awe and worship, or a world of smothering dark creating doubt and fear, and breeding unbelief.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment