I love to watch movies. The lights dim and the screen illuminates. The plot evolves, characters develop, and everything begins to fit together. By the time the movie ends I have often been moved, perhaps even changed. New perspectives uncovered. New insights gained.
These newfound revelations propel me to tell others about this movie—a must see! Should not our response to God’s revelation be more exciting? His story is the story! “God is the primary character, we too are characters in the story, and our actions impact the course of the story as it moves towards its appointed end, which still lies in the future.” This biblical narrative is at the heart of worship and tells of the “continuous and ongoing relationship between God and his people.” This relationship, initiated by God, is a two-fold movement: God towards creation and creation back to God. It is not what we do for God, but what Christ does on our behalf.
“Christian worship is, therefore, our participation through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father, in his vicarious life of worship and intercession. It is our response to our Father for all that he has done for us in Christ.” But how do we know how to respond? If our response is to be acceptable to God it must be rooted in Scripture.
The prophet Isaiah emphasizes the stand-alone power of God. “‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:25, 28). “Acceptance of this one and only Creator requires worship.” When we look ahead to the New Testament, Colossians brings the Creator into a Christocentric focus. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). With Jesus clearly placed at the center of our worship, he becomes our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and “is supreme and infinite. He rules now and deserves our devotion and praise.”
Harold Best brings the Theocentric and Christocentric views together while placing us within the ongoing framework of worship. Worship is at once about who we are, about who or what our God is and about how we choose to live. It is about something that is quite simple but wrapped in a mystery. It is about God himself, who has but one face and whose face has been clearly shown in the person and work of his only begotten Son. He goes on to say: “We are . . . unceasing worshipers.” So, we see that worship is about so much more than our weekly services. It is a biblical mandate on how we should live our lives. Worship is the proper response to our God who has given us everything.
We should live every moment of our lives in accordance with his law. To live in such a way requires practice. Our Sunday gatherings for worship become the obvious rehearsal space. “We are always in the presence of God, but we acknowledge an intensification of that presence during worship.” Next month, we will explore the first part of our worship service – The Gathering.
Quotations taken from: Eric Bolger, “A Biblical Theology of Worship”
James B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace
Dinelle Frankland, His Story – Our Response: What the Bible Says About Worship
Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts