Recently I heard a very thought-provoking sermon that I very much so appreciated. I appreciated it because, well duh, a thought-provoking sermon makes sitting in church not so boring 😉 I also appreciated it because, though you’ve probably never considered it, systematically finding inspiration to write a new blog post every other week is harder than you’d think!
The sermon was regarding worship, a very familiar and vital–yet hazy vague–concept in Christian circles. Pastor Kyle defined worship as “human response to the Divine.”
In this way, our worship is less about us, our styles, or our traditions. Instead, worship is all about who God is.
In one sense, this simplifies worship so very much. We can disregard arguments over drums vs no drums, instruments vs no instruments, choir vs no choir, traditional hymns vs contemporary christian… vs rap… (oooh! Might’ve touched a nerve there!). Whatever we’re doing, if we’re doing it as a genuine response to the Divine, we are worshiping. This is why in the Bible, David was commended for dancing in his underwear in public. I wouldn’t suggest that one… but it does stand as an example of how worship is defined by its “why”, not by it’s “what.”
And at the same time, this can be quite complicated. You might’ve recognized a theme in my past blog posts: I know my understanding of God is skewed. If my perspective of the Divine is off-kilter, my response to the Divine is likely to be far less genuine. It becomes much more dutiful and less of a spontaneous, joyful response to my Father.
To be fair, grasping the concept of who God is is…well… impossible, fully. Hence, I have quite the tendency to view him in a much more familiar light: like a human. As I mentioned in my last post, I see God as loving me dutifully, without a whole lot of “liking” me–as a sister of her annoying brother. I see God like a judge, who is judging our actions, good or bad, sinful or God-glorifying. I see God as a political leader–distant and impossible to make any headway with.
But let me tell you, I don’t worship my sister (even when she loves her annoying brother). I don’t worship judges (even when they judge fairly). And I don’t worship our political leaders (even when their views align with mine).
So when I see God this way, no wonder worship feels dutiful. And any amount of dutiful “spicing up” of my worship remains only as actions, not as heartfelt, overflowing, genuine response.
So perhaps I need to stop focusing on myself. Stop adding check boxes on my to-do list for worshiping God, stop guilting myself into reading more Christian self-help books, stop switching up my personal devotion time in hopes of finding a “spark” that makes it exciting–the trick that will make my relationship with God feel “more like falling in love” as Jason Gray puts it .
Instead, perhaps I need to start asking the questions Pastor Kyle asked of the congregation.
Who is your God?
What can your God do?
How does your God act?
And, perhaps, as I start to check my beliefs about my God, I will start to find worship within my heart. Perhaps I will start to respond in awe and gratitude naturally, as I recognize that I wasn’t created by and for, loved by, or led by a human. Perhaps the best way to connect with God is to, well um, actually seek out who God is–instead of focusing on how I need to present myself to God.
Care to join me on this journey?