Worship – Not a Spectator Sport

Sometimes when we worship, we have the idea that it should go something like this:

Maybe what we’re experiencing is a bit more attractive:

Regardless, the idea seems to be that worship is something we sit and watch others do. We watch something beautiful. We hear something profound. We share some experiences and then we go about the business of our real lives, and only rarely do the two – worship and life – impinge upon one another.

Nothing could be farther from the biblical picture of worship. Our world is dying, our friends and neighbors are destroying themselves in idolatrous lives, and Paul has something to say about it!

Rom 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

I bet no one ever told you that is a worship text. The whole book of Romans is about worship! Worship of God contrasted with worship of idols. Paul goes so far as to call his Jewish family that rejects King Jesus idolators too!

True Worship of Almighty God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is not a spectator sport. It is the most dangerous way of life in the cosmos. True worship defies the corrupt powers in the world around us. True worship says “Jesus is LORD” and no one else is!

Mark Labberton writes, “The crisis the church currently faces is that our individual and corporate worship do not produce the fruit of justice and righteousness that God seeks. This creates a crisis of faithfulness before God and a crisis of purpose before the world. Scripture indicates that our personal and communal worship are meant to shape our vision and fire our engines to be daring disciples, imitating and sharing the love of Jesus Christ in acts of righteousness and justice. What’s more, the Bible teaches that the people of the world, whether they believe it or not, suffer and die while waiting for us in the church to live like the people of God, demonstrating our worship with our lives (Romans 8:18-25). The heart of the battle over worship is this: our worship practices are separated from our call to justice and, worse, foster the self-indulgent tendencies of our culture rather than nurturing the self-sacrificing life of the kingdom of God. We are asleep. Nothing is more important than for us to wake up and practice the dangerous act of worship, living God’s call to justice.” (The Dangerous Act of Worship, pp. 22-23)

In another setting, perhaps an even more central one, Paul writes this:

Eph 5:14 “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you,”

…freely paraphrasing another call to worship:

Isa 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Beloveds, only our worship reveals us to the world as sons and daughters of the Most High God!
Only ss we worship Him will we become more like Him.
Only as we reflect His shining light into the darkness of our world (rather than at each other or back at God) will the kingdom of God burst forth with healing restorative love in our homes, our workplaces, the places and people we encounter every day. This is the mission of God.

Let our brother Luke tell us a story to conclude:
And Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

in HIS love,

About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 25 October, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Way to go, Nick! Awesome use of the imagery!

  2. Even listening should involve active participation (2 Chron. 34:30, 31; Nehemiah 9, etc.) Thanks for these thoughts.

  3. Thank you, John, for the directions.Thank you, Gardner, for gracing my thinking space. While I think we do a lot more listening and a lot less participating than the first century church (even when Paul spoke until midnight, the Greek says he DIALOGUED), I still agree with your statement. I wish our assembly times encouraged us to stay together after the sermon and talk about what we heard, talk about what it makes us think, the other Scriptures that come to mind.The problem with that, though, is the relative Biblical illiteracy of far too many believers, especially in comparison with the early believers. Our minds and hearts are soaked with and work from the world’s stories (Desperate Housewives and the National Football League) and so all we can think of to say to the preacher afterwards is: Nice sermon.John Ortberg opens the foreward to the Labberton text with, “Nobody ever went up to Jesus after his blistering warning about religious hypocrisy and shook his hand and said, “Thanks, rabbi. That was a nice talk.”Nick

  4. Nick, I think people need a wake up call. Too many people worship through watching, and I even find myself falling prey to this too. Thanks for putting it into words. Not only should worship be interactive, but it should leave you wanting to continue that worship each day and each moment after service is over.

  5. Love the pictures, Nick…

  6. LOL Blame John! He should know better than to bring me a new toy!

  7. Joshua L. Pappas

    I really enjoyed this post, Nick. I also appreciate the quotes. I find most of the new books I want to read by seeing or hearing them quoted by others. —JLP

  8. My pastor once told me, and I checked it out, that if you want to read about worship, read Revelation 4. That puts some things in perspective.

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