“Worship is the central activity of every person’s existence.” What an audacious statement that Philip Nation makes in the first line of chapter two! His argument is that the simplest, most crude definition of worship is that it is whatever we obsess over.
Bam! He nailed us – at least, he nailed me. I can’t help but immediately see the dozens of false gods in my life when I think about idolatry being that which I think, fuss, and obsess over.
“Worship is giving your affections away to someone or something,” Nation adds. Again, I stand convicted before God, who told me to “have no other gods before Me.”
Psalm 95:1–7 (ESV)
1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
I appreciated Nation’s explanation that worship as a discipline focuses our heart’s affections on the Lord, but it also rejects all else, saying, “You are not God.”
In his section on “Private Worship”, the author explains the variety of ways we are able to worship the Lord. He rightly calls us to center worship on the Word of God. Devotional books have their place, but it is God whom we need to hear speak to us. Prayer, singing (alone) to God, and weeping are all ways we can worship the Lord in private.
In public worship we exercise a spiritual discipline that flows out of our love for God. We guard against ever thinking of it as a requirement for gaining the Lord’s favor. In public worship, we sing together (Ephesians 5:19), sometimes singing to the Lord and sometimes, as Paul directs, singing to one another about the Lord. We also pray together, as we worship corporately. Nation makes a helpful call for balance in both private and public prayer. “Adoration is loving God for who He is, whereas thanksgiving is praising Him for His activity. Both are necessary.” Declaring God’s Word is central to public worship, but it is bigger than just the sermon. We have opportunities for public reading of scripture, singing Psalms, reciting and memorizing scripture, and reading through the same passages. Personal testimony, including the act of baptism, is another element of public worship.
Nation rightly points out that true worship will always result in mission. True worshippers will speak naturally and freely in everyday conversation about the Lord we worship. Public worship will itself be a witness to unbelievers when they observe us in worship. Worship will, by our example, teach our children to worship. A healthy small group will make sure that food and study are not the only things they experience together – there will be worship, as well. “A regular practice of worship expresses our love to God and shows it to the world.”
PRAYER: “Lord, during my sabbatical, as I am not responsible for planning or leading public worship, refresh my own worship of You, both in private and as we are able to gather with other believers in public worship. Give a fresh stirring of Your Spirit in Crossroads, as they worship each week. Amen.”