Every time I watch a “Rocky” movie I get excited by the opening movie title banner. I get totally energized by the training montage. I am inspired so much by his ability to overcome adversity that I feel able to conquer the world!
How is it that I ascribe such value to a fictional character yet such little value to the Creator of the universe and redeemer of my soul? And yet this is a running theme in the lives of so many. We kvell over celebrities, athletes, entrepreneurs, gadgets, and even fictional characters, but, how often do we exude over God?
Matt Redman defines worship as the relationship between revelation and response.
Worship is about revelation and response. When it is hard to pray or worship (respond) it is always that we have not been listening to or opening our eyes to see the revelation of God. Knowing God always invokes a response of awe and adoration. (Matt Redman, “What is Worship?” DVD, VineyardMusic)
If worship is truly the response of a believer to the awe-inspiring revelation of the Most High God, and we respond so little and with such little passion, then logic dictates that we are not experiencing a full revelation of God. The question is then whether God is not communicating or we are not receiving. Scripture is clear. King David writes in Psalm 19 that “The heavens declare the glory of God”. Nature itself proclaims the revelation of God. We have only to open our senses and spirits to receive it. Therefore the problem is not in His revelation, but in our reception.
In his book Praise Habit, David Crowder states that as children we are “professional worshippers”. Whether it is a hero, like Rocky, whom we adore or that new bike or a new toy, we are in awe of these people and things and can’t wait to enjoy them, tell others about them, and experience them again and again. Yet, as we grow and become socially influenced we become afraid, even ashamed, to express ourselves. Worship is checked by pride and self-preservation.
Mat Redman says that “worship thrives on wonder”. Our response comes in the form of awe. It is, when fully experienced, the same ego shattering response that the priests and Levites had at the dedication of the first temple.
3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever." 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
As a lead worshipper in the congregation, I always want this to be the result of our meeting with God in worship. Though I’ve never seen a pillar of cloud or fire, in those moments when I, in my leadership capacity, am aware of that revelation, my response can only be to fall on my face before the Lord. This is the embodiment of what David says when He instructs us to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
This humility and act of submission must be the foundation of every other expression our response to God takes on. Kathryn Scot accurately describes Jewish
Worship as a holistic response. We cannot compartmentalize our lives, worshipping with our mouths and sinning with our actions.
“We have to realize that we are whole beings and we either worship wholly or we are holding back.” (Kathryn Scot)
In Torah, God has given us a framework for worship as a “whole-life response” to His sovereignty and goodness to us. Holidays, shabbat, tzit-tzit, even our treatment of those in our community, from father and mother to the “stranger living among you” (Leviticus 19:34) are facets of our worship. They remind us of who He is and what He has done for us as well as reminding us of how much we depend on our relationship with Him. As a result, our lives of worship relay his faithfulness to the rest of the world. They show the world that He IS and that He can be counted on by all who call on Him. (2 Chronicles 6:32)
God is satisfied with our worship when it draws us and others closer to Himself. In this, we fulfill what Yeshua calls the greatest commandment, loving “the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength”. (Deuteronomy 6:14) When we receive a revelation of God, His goodness, His faithfulness, His love, His redemption, His sovereignty, His provision, we can only respond with genuine worship in spirit and truth.