This weekend we held our first of 5 Worship Summits at NCC. We have several outstanding worship teams and had a gathering of 25 of them and covered topics under the general categories of Worship Theology, Worship Technique, Worship Planning and Worship Dynamics. I want to post some of my material on Worship Theology for perusal and interaction, looking for some feedback. I (as many others) view worship as primarily responsive and submit the first category here in this post: Worship as the Response of Creation to Creator.
Response of Creation to Creator: Worship is the most basic human activity. There is no more “human” expression than the response of worship. One aspect of General Revelation (that God has revealed himself in what he has made) is that what He has made proclaims his glory. The Psalmist says: “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Paul in Romans makes the case in reverse when he says that “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:20-21). God is evident to all, but all do not respond with honor and thanks (ie. worship). The presumption here is that the normal and natural human expression in response to the creation is worship. When we see other parts of creation we should give thanks and give honor as we rightly assign credit to the Creator for the presence and beauty and majesty of creation.
But it is more than response to creation, it is response to my own existence as a created being. The Psalmist also calls us to worship God as “our maker”: Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker (Psa 95:6). Our worship is an expression of recognition that God has made us, we are not our own. We are not responsible for our life, we can’t take credit for our existence. More investigation leads us to conclude that the reason for our existence is to bring glory to God. Isaiah says it most plainly: “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made” (Isa 43:7). Paul picks this idea up in Ephesians 1 when he links together the ideas of redemption (election and predestination) to the glory of God. We were created for the glory of God and we are redeemed for the glory of God. These twin actions of God set a stake of ownership in the heart of man and the required response of the creation to the creator is worship – bringing glory to the Creator.
It is man’s creative and redemptive purpose to worship. In this way it is the most basic human activity. Denying worship is to deny purpose. To fulfill purpose is to worship. This idea forms the foundation for the concept of worship as lifestyle as well as event.
In the high priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus speaks of the mutual “glory/glorifying” of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Joh 17:5). In the Trinity and by its very nature there is a shared glory, and a mutual “glorying”. A mark of God, part of His behavior is to glory and glorify. It is a corollary worship type phenomenon. It is not the same as our worship, yet nonetheless the acknowledgement of glory on the part of the members of the Trinity is to be emulated by the creation. In some sense this is what it means to be created in the image of God. The reciprocal glory of God’s creation (I recognize God’s power and nature in what He has made and it elicits a response of awe and wonder in response) is directed by my mind to its rightful recipient, that is God. To fulfill the image of God in man, man joins in the unity that God has with Christ through the process of redemption. God places the Spirit within me and the activity of the Spirit is to glory in and glorify God (John 4:24, 14:9, 17, 20; 15:26-27; 16:14; 17:9-11). The Spirit of God draws us into this Trinitarian activity of glory, it is for us pure worship.
The essence of our originally created nature and our re-created nature is summarized by worship posture and activity. The essence of our fallen nature is a rebellion against the creator which is contrary to worship, or the bowing of the knee in submission. Worship is the appropriate creative posture and goal, it is in large part the expression of the image of God in man. It is here where we can make the connection between the image of God in man and his natural response in worship and as a result holiness. The recreative activity of the Holy Spirit is intended to make us holy. Worship is an activity that is linked with holiness (1 Chr. 16:29; Ps. 29:2; Ps. 96:9; Ps. 99:5, 9; Isa. 27:13: Rom. 12:1; Rev. 15:4). So we worship in a holy manner and we worship to become holy.
Future posts on Worship:
- Worship as response to Grace
- Worship as response to Glory
- Worship as response to Revelation
- Worship as response to Presence
Talk to me…