For: Essentials in Worship Theology Part 2
In the last two weeks God has placed urgency in my spirit for His people to 1. Have a biblical understanding of the nature of God, 2. Know what it means to establish “His Kingdom,” and 3. Understand how both of these relate to the way we worship Him.
I believe that when we understand the nature of God and recognize Him as creator, king, and savior, we can’t help but rethink the way we approach worship. As worship leaders we have a duty to live in a way that reflects a healthy view of the God we serve. Dan Wilt said in our studies this week: “We become like what we worship…If our view of God is small, we will be small. If our view of God is passionate, joyful, expansive and creative, we will tend to be the same” (1). My Senior Pastor said something similar in one of his recent sermons when he said: “Why would the unbeliever want to be like us if our lives don’t look any different from theirs?” The point is that if God is not reflected in our lives, we won’t look, act, or talk any differently than the Godless. And if we don’t reflect the goodness and glory of God for the world to see, what is going to move people towards repentance and relationship with Jesus?
As we gain understanding of the nature of God, we must focus on all four individual aspects that make Him who He is if we hope to worship Him in spirit and truth. The article, “Who is the God we worship?” says it right when it says:
Exclusive focus on the creator will weaken the church; we need to worship and adore the Redeemer. But focus on the creator and redeemer to the exclusion of the sanctifier will also weaken the church. It is the spirit who brings new birth, empowering revival, gifting and community –conformity to Christ. Awed by His majesty, allured by his love and transformed by his spirit we will become the holy people God has called us to be (2).
Each individual aspect of His nature reveals something different about who God is, and we need to understand all of them together. When we understand the whole of God, how the individual pieces fit together, it will drastically change the way we worship.
Theologian Dr. Don Williams says there are two ways we approach God when we worship. The first is that we come to him with high praise and admiration (3). To explain this, he cites Psalms 95:1-2, which says: “1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LOR; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” When we approach God with praise and lift Him high, we take the focus off of ourselves and direct it to Him. The second way that Dr. Williams says we approach God is with submission and surrender (2). Psalms 95:6-7 says: “6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7 for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under His care.” We must humble ourselves before His holiness and recognize how worthy He is. Both elements are essential for pure worship, be it individual or corporate.
I am beginning to realize that many Christians have an inaccurate understanding of the purpose of worship. Many people think of worship as a means of temporary relief from the struggles of life. They look to worship and God to fill them and get them from one Sunday to the next. Eddie Gibbs explained this well when he said:
Our worship is not conducted in splendid isolation from the pressures of the world. It is not a retreat into denial or a search for a safe-haven. Worship that becomes privatized and compartmentalized is in danger of degenerating into a form of spiritual self-indulgence. For Paul, worship is not an adrenaline shot, eventually leading to an adrenaline addiction among those who are constantly seeking a new “high.” For him there is no place for exhibitionism, for true worship entails a dying to self. It is not a temporary and periodic ecstatic experience, but the consecration of our entire being. It is not an interlude in the week but to be integrated into the whole of life (4).
I understand that we’re not always on the mountain tops, and we go through seasons in the valleys, but if we are not careful, we will approach worship in the wrong way. It’s our job to offer up true worship by surrendering ourselves to God and lifting Him up, not for personal gain, but to establish His Kingdom on the earth.
We can’t forget that we have a job to do, and that is to establish God’s Kingdom on the earth. The Kingdom of God doesn’t exist in some distant time or place that we will only experience after we die. Rather, through the resurrection of Jesus, it is here and now. N.T Wright explained this well when he said: “If Jesus has been raised, that means that God’s new world, God’s Kingdom, has indeed arrived; and that means we have a job to do” (5).
We can’t fail to see the connection between our worship and our job of establishing God’s kingdom. My prayer is that I become contagious to those around me—that as I live to be a reflection of God and establish His Kingdom, those around me can’t help but feel the same. God has given different skills and abilities to each of us, and as we join together we can be unstoppable. May our prayer be “God use me, and let my life be Yours to do with as you would.”
(1) Dan Wilt, Essentials In Worship Theology eBook, The Nature Of God (Section 2) Page 19
(2) Don Williams, Who Is The God We Worship (www.WorshipTraining.com) Video
(3) Don Williams, Approaching God. (www.WorshipTraining.com) Video
(4) Eddie Gibbs, Time In A Bottle (www.InsideWorship.com) Article.
(5) N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, Part 2: Staring At The Sun. Kindle Edition.