Contemporary Christianity has taken to using ‘worship’ to describe the act of singing. We call it ‘the worship’ during a Sunday meeting and we listen to ‘worship CDs’…but at the same time we somehow want to cling to the biblical idea that all of life is worship.
Here’s a thought for a Monday – compare the Old Testament and New Testament ideas of the temple. In the Old Testament the presence of God was encountered once a year when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, but in the New Testament we’re told that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit; God dwells within every Christian!
But in our use of the word ‘worship’ are we falling back into the Old Testament attitude that the gathered body of believers is somehow the only way that we can truly connect to God?
I’m re-reading a book right now called Unceasing Worship by Harold M. Best – it’s wonderful. And he suggests that the best way of understanding the biblical idea of worship is in the phrase ‘continuous outpouring’. We are continuously outpouring worship to some god or other in our words, ideas and actions; whether that god is Jesus, or ourselves, or something or someone else ultimately comes down to us.
That idea makes sense of Jesus’ words in John 4 after the Samaritan woman asks him where the right place to worship God is. He doesn’t give a place name, he instead gives her an attitude: ‘in spirit and in truth’. If that lady had asked a typical contemporary Christian ‘where is the best place to worship?’ I’m not sure the Christian wouldn’t default to something along the lines of: ‘Well, that depends on what sort of music you like.’
Is it a worry that we’d so blatantly answer such an important question differently to Jesus?
I’ve written about this already (at least here and here) so if you feel like I’m flogging a dead horse you may have a point…but I suppose you clicked the link to get here so it’s actually your fault. Haven’t quite worked that thought through yet.