Thursday, November 19, 2015

Worship and First World Problems

In the context of church, American Christians typically think of worship as the songs we sing. Depending on what church you attend, the word “worship” may have some greater meaning, but church music is typically what comes to mind. It has become the center of so many criticisms: it’s too loud / soft, too traditional / new, too slow / upbeat, etc.

In general use, the English word for worship can be thought of as a noun (“the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”) or a verb (“show reverence and adoration for [a deity]; honor with religious rites.”). The origin of the word was “worth-ship” or “weorthscipe”, which is basically an acknowledgement of worth or worthiness. While God is certainly worthy, the English definition just seemed to fall short, so as I did a search on the Internet, I came across this quote, which summed up my feelings:
In some ways an etymology-based definition can be a helpful start. God’s worth is infinite, so we can never give back enough – a fact that leads us toward the glimmer of a biblical (rather than etymological) definition: a life given in service of God. (http://thinkingworship.com/2011/04/25/worship-theology-101-what%E2%80%99s-in-a-word/ worth reading!)
I was further prompted to look into the Hebrew words for worship. Since I’m not a Hebrew scholar, I need to lean on the expertise of others, such as this site that lists and defines Hebrew words for praise (http://www.justworship.com/hebrewpraisewords.php). And as I consider my understanding Scripture, I believe that worship is more than music, sound or action. 

We are called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. (Deut 6:5 and as quoted by Jesus in the gospels). He is worthy of all our love, adoration, action and praise. We worship when we love; we love when we obey (John 14:21); we obey because we spend time in the Presence of God (James 4:8, John 15:5, Proverbs 16:3). All that we have, all our resources, are not enough to worship Him, but we offer Him so much less than “all” of our resources. 

Sometimes we feel like we have nothing left to give, but everyone has resources at their disposal. True, it has been handed out in different degrees to different people and there are seasons where it is more abundant. Breaking it down: everyone has some amount of time, talent or wealth to dedicate to God, and regardless of where we are, God is there and He is doing something. How can we see what He’s doing if we aren’t looking for it or asking Him to reveal it?

How are we spending our time? In the case of one youth I know, he went to bed late playing video games, and upon waking up, he went immediately in search of his game controller. But is that any worse than the person who checks their social media an hour before and after bed? Or their work email? How are we, God’s people directing our energy, spending our time, talents and treasures? I’m not saying that video games, social media, or work email are evil, but we were made to take dominion over the world and to bring every thought captive to the truth and authority of Christ. Instead, how are our minds being captured? Where is our thought life? Do we make the time to listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit?

I’ve heard it said “I don’t have time for a daily quiet time with God” from people who find hours for a sitcom, movie, football game or electronics. Again, these things aren’t inherently evil, but are we sacrificing our time at the wrong alter? How we spend our time, talent and wealth is an indication of what we value. An unbelieving world looks at the disparity between our words and our actions and rightly calls western Christians hypocrites. How are we spending our resources? What altar do we pay homage to? Materialism? Hedonism? Laziness? 
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land…
“But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.”
1 Chronicles 7:14, 19-20
Don’t think that the above reference only applies to Israel. As Paul wrote:
After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
Romans 11:24
As believers, our bodies are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), and we need to determine on a daily basis to worship God with our time, talents and treasure. It says that lawlessness will abound in the last days and that the love of many will grow cold; it also says that people will mock the Day of the Lord’s Coming. The time is short, certainly closer today than yesterday. Draw close to God. Please pray for me and my family as well, that we will be faithful and true individually and collectively. And draw close to God.

Copyright © 2015 – Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)