The God Who Doesn’t Want Worship, Or Echoing Paganism

This is my second post in a row on worship, though I think the subject matter is notably dissimilar to yesterday. I’m taking a chance and going with this since my response to yesterday’s post was not what I anticipated (namely people didn’t shred me)– so this time around I’m really trying to get people to disagree with me.

In church as a kid I remember hearing about Heaven’s streets of gold and mansions with many, many rooms. I suppose they roads and mansions were seldom used as the idea of Heaven I was presented with was Jesus radiating an unimaginable glow while every single Christian ever stood before him in white robes singing continual praise to God. I imagined Jesus with his eyes closed, a satisfied smile upon his face and head slightly tilted up as he finally receives all the glory he deserves.

I once told a friend that Heaven sound really boring. He was afraid to agree, because you’re supposed to stoked about worshiping God forever.

I suppose that partially this idea of Heaven was boring to me because I’ve never been a big worship music guy. Like many people, I worship better on my mountain bike narrowly squeezing through trees than in an auditorium singing songs. Even with the best band playing the most emotional songs it doesn’t do much for me.

So here is where I’m going to get controversial. Worship time is key to just about every church service – most services are broken down into two main events of worship and teaching. This would make it seem like the praise and worship of God is key, and I don’t totally disagree with that. However…

Some of our worship seems more like praises people would offer up to the agricultural gods hundreds or thousands of years ago. What I mean is that the idea of bowing down and giving praises to our God seems to be more rooted in old school religion than the way of Jesus. He taught an idea of a servant God who cared far more about his children, his people, than he did himself. Jesus himself didn’t seem particularly interested in praise, even shying away from it, and you can probably come up with elaborate reasons explaining this, but I still think it’s telling.

To me, God’s nature is one of servitude and humility, and of caring for others before himself. I almost imagine God not terribly interested in our worship. I think at first when hear of God this way it seems like an injustice, like its a violation of God himself – that “NO! This can’t be – he is to be praised always.” But in some ways I think we hold onto ideas of religion and praising the gods to appease them, forgetting that Jesus spoke of a God very unlike the gods.

I’m not in the mood to go into all the examples that could support this idea (real quick: Jesus saying “learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice'”; go reconcile before coming to the altar and the first shall be last), mostly because I think my readers are very acquainted with the gospels.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t praise God. That’d be silly, of course. But I think we overemphasize worship, forgetting that God is selfless and that he’d rather we go help someone out than sit “in front of his throne” raining praises down on him. Worship of God, in Jesus’ mind, is servitude toward others, and not songs of praise.

 

So, am I nuts? Do you get the point I’m trying to make (I rewrote this post several times trying to get it right)? What do you think about worship? Does the idea of it seem incongruous with God’s selfless nature?

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12 Responses to The God Who Doesn’t Want Worship, Or Echoing Paganism

  1. Angela says:

    I think worship with a sincere heart is necessary in serving as well as your own personal worship choice. Not everyone is into music although by looking at any church service, you would think that’s all anybody did…and maybe that’s the problem. People feel like they need to fit that mold. If they aren’t standing up, singing loudly, people might think there is something wrong with their spiritual faith. Ideally churches should have different opportunities for people to worship God such as journaling, painting or other art forms, silence, scripture mediation etc.

    So to answer your question Charlie, I think both are necessary: time spent acknowledging God as creator in worship as well as serving others as a form of worship. Ultimately everything we do should be worship anyway.

  2. jay @ bethegospel says:

    I have to say that when I think of standing before the throne and singing songs for hundreds of thousands of years to come I also get a little bit scared because I can’t grasp that. And I don’t think it sounds very much fun either. I like to relax and not be on the go all the time, but doing one thing forever? I mean imagine how all the ADHD kids are going to feel!

    To throw another kink in the system, what do we have to say about Anna who stayed in the the Temple from the time her husband died till the time that Jesus showed up there? All she did was stay in the temple praising God constantly – and the text doesn’t seem to diss her for it, but show it as a good thing. She was rewarded by seeing the Messiah because she had been there so long doing what no one else had made a commitment to do.

    interesting stuff Charlie…

  3. JamesBrett says:

    i’m with you. we’ve done a real disservice to all of worship by referring to that very small bit we do on sunday mornings as “worship.” i think of sunday gatherings as the time in which i bring and lay before God the fruits of real worship — a changed and obedient life. i bring the sacrifice of my life — which is worship — to lay before him and celebrate his work in me and through me.

    so our sunday “worship” can only be as good as the sacrifices of those people present.

    i hope it’s alright if i post a couple of links on the subject:

    my (current) definition of worship

    sunday gatherings as “worship”

  4. David says:

    If worship is expressing worth to God as it should be, then unless we have a deep passion for God, it’s all meaningless.

    I can only tell you what I have experienced. One time I was at a meeting and they played the well worn, “Our God is an Awesome God” (chorus only). As a musician, I don’t find it all that exciting. However; that night, God’s presence was so incredible that my knees were shaking. I really can’t describe it, but there was a “no foolin’ this is the real thing” presence in that room. There were no kids coloring, no folks on cell phones, no folks getting up to use the rest room, or teens ducked down in hoodies with iPods. There was nothing but the awe of King Jesus.

    Another time I went to a church and they had pretty standard for the time, worship music playing. However; just as I started to join in, I had a burning desire to get down on my knees and ask God to forgive me. Trust me I am no Baptist and I never close my eyes during an altar call or bow my head! Except for the Anglican Church, I never knelt in church either. I spent probably a few minutes, and when it finally seemed OK to me to get up, I noticed the music was almost silent. I saw that just about the entire church had done the same including the drummer and the keyboardist.

    There are many more times where God has spoken to me, I have prayed and been answered, or I simply been overwhelmed by the Spirit.

    Worship is so about God. For me, nothing else matters but where He and I are at.

  5. Su says:

    An interesting question, and kind of a hard one. Does God need my worship? Of course he doesn’t. (Terry Pratchett, an atheist and writer of social satire/fantasy, has gods that need worship to exist. I don’t think the Creator of the universe needs our worship to exist.) People usually throw in a parental metaphor here… meh.

    Do I need to worship God? Yeah, because if nothing else, it takes the focus off of me. Does that happen at church? Yes. Does it happen other places? Absolutely; in fact, it’s the happening-all-the-time aspect of worship that makes Sunday mornings possible. Otherwise, “going to church” has less of an effect on my life than “going to school”– at least I have to bring homework home from school. And I’m not cool with my life going that direction.

    Singing happens to be something I enjoy, and I’m cringing at your description of some lyrics because it’s true, dangit. My husband says similar things– he tends to make up his own lyrics depending on how the Spirit is moving him. I’m all about worship with my entire life. I’m on the lookout for mindless “quacking”, as Whoopi expressed it in Sister Act (the writers of that movie had it spot on, I think), but unfortunately sometimes it slips by me and I’ve missed an opportunity to see God.

    Good grief, this is long enough to be my own blog post. :/

    • good point that we don’t want our church services to just become school – though as a kid school and church were the same in that I groaned at having to go to both… and I don’t mind long replies, it means you’re actually thinking about what we’re talkin’ about. That is the point of all this blogging business I suppose.

  6. Pingback: The Kingdom Here For a Day or Two, Or There May Be Some Good Left in Christmas | Charlie's Church of Christ

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