I am grateful to you my readers for the IM’s, comments, emails and conversations over coffee about my last post. This week I am going to refine a bit for you where I am heading with these. You took the bait.
The reason I am calling these sayings “myths” is because like other sayings thrown around in our Christian, evangelical subculture, these become trite mottos used to pummel our fellow brethren and they become untrue since their application is far removed from their origins. I got some of you to think, which is fantastic! Think my brothers and sisters, think!
Remember, we are talking about liturgy or public worship services rather than theology or the literal definition of worship (giving God His due honor or worth).
Here is the first revisions from the original. (In the coming weeks I will write more extensively on each of these first 6):
- Worship is a lifestyle. Better said, “Worship is something special, not everything I do.” I cannot claim brushing my teeth for Jesus is worship. Worship must cost me something. I live as a worshipper who shows this by literal “acts” of worship that may be small or big, but are separate for this very purpose. This is why the weekly gathering is so important–a separate time for the purpose of giving to God His worth. What do you do that is separate from the mundane to express your devotion or worship to God?
- Worship is not music. Better said, “Worship is expressed not just through music.” Biblically, there are many scriptures that give the posture of worship and music hand-in-hand. Worship may not be music in the pure sense, but certainly the weight of its use in worship in scripture should not be easily discarded. Obviously, there are many ways we can express our worship without music such as spoken prayers, or creatively sharing our testimony or God-story. Music is significant in the Bible and tradition as an expression of worship, but what other options do I have in public worship to express worship?
- Worship is not about me. Better said, “Worship is about God.” It is obvious that God is the object of worship. But, we are the worshipper and remembering who God is, what He has done and whose we are is all part of worship. We come as humans to worship. When we deny ourselves, that does not mean we become something not human. Jesus was human. We worship like Jesus, not Spock. We bring ourselves into the mix. How does reminding myself of whose I am also become an act of worship along with response to God for who He is and what He has done?
- Worship with hymns is deeper theologically than with modern music. Better said, “Hymns are rich in heritage and theological expression.” There indeed are many hymns that are weak on theology, but we still sing some of them at Christmas. There are many choruses that are fantastically rich with theology. White, European songs from 300 years ago may not be relevant to all, but to some they are rich and represent a terrific expression. How do I put hymns in their proper context without either discarding them or on the other hand actually worshipping the medium of using hymns?
- Worship is better in a certain style or structure. Better said, “Worship for ME is better in a certain style or structure.” Note the the word “ME” added. The premise here is that there is far more liberty in scripture and tradition than we accept. We become ethnocentric in our worship so often without realizing it. We would never approve of our modern day missionaries imposing Western music on indigenous people without regard to a groups unique culture. How respectful and appreciative of other forms of worship expression and structure am I compared to the ones I like and why is that important for Christian unity?
- True worship should make me feel good (or bad). Better said, “Authentic worship has emotion or passion.” All of our emotions as worshippers are employed. We simply respond sometimes and the response is based on what God has done or based on reflecting on who He is. Doing this will result in passion of some sort, but we cannot demand that we feel a certain way when we go to God to worship. The idea is that we will feel something, however, if not all the time, most of the time. Otherwise, we are not “engaged” in our worship and therefore really not vested in it. How open am I to allowing my emotions to be expressed in my worship and do I sneer or smile at those that are freer than I?
Please tell me how you think about these revisions.