Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Last Word on Worship

Here we are at the end of a month of posts focused on worship. I'm so thankful for my fellow bloggers, and our guest writers who contributed to the discussion. It's an important topic.

That being said, there is always a temptation to talk something to death. When it comes to worship discussions, with the emotion that frequently accompanies them, we may risk talking more about worship than actually doing it. So much has been written about it and continues to be written about it; we may be tempted to immerse ourselves in the debates surrounding it to the detriment of our own worship.

I like what D.A. Carson says in Worship By the Book. This volume, edited by Carson, has essays from Tim Keller, R. Kent Hughes, and Mark Ashton. Carson's contribution discusses the theology of worship.

Carson gives a detailed definition of worship and then proceeds to discuss each element. He reminds us that the object of our worship is our Creator-God, and that we worship him because "he is worthy, delightfully so." He goes on:
What ought to make worship delightful to us is not, in the first instance, its novelty or its aesthetic beauty, but its object: God himself is delightfully wonderful, and we learn to delight in him. 
In an age increasingly suspicious of (linear) thought, there is much more respect for the "feeling" of things - whether a film or a church service. It is disturbingly easy to plot surveys of people, especially young people, drifting from a church of excellent preaching and teaching to one with excellent music because, it is alleged, there is "better worship there." But we need to think carefully about this matter. Let us restrict ourselves for the moment to corporate worship. Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it's a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.
It all comes back full circle to God himself. How can we worship what we don't know? We must know God, and to know God, we must seek him as he reveals himself.  It does us no good to know more about the "wars" of worship than we do about the object of worship.

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