May 21, 2009

Worship: Sweet, Sweet Perspective

The subject of worshiping God is one I've been thinking and learning about a lot; worship in the broad sense, not just singing in church. To me, worship means a state of acknowledging God's love and power by stepping into some perspective. God is love, redeems us, has a perfect plan for us, has heaven waiting for us, and with that perspective life seems a bit more bearable. Theoretically, if you focused only on that all the time you would be worshipful and happy all the time. Note the word "theoretically."

Granted, it's impossible to maintain a perfect state of bliss all day no matter what (honestly, that's pretty impractical) while ideally we will have God's love as a reference point for every situation. If someone called me to tell me my brother just died, I would cry, not sit there without dropping my smile because it's merely another part of Earthly life I don't have to worry about. Far from it. About living this worshipful way, Paul says in Romans 12: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Taking your life and injecting God into it is a form of worship, indeed one very central to a Christian walk: spending time with Him, serving the Church and all that good stuff. I love the qualifying phrase "in view of God's mercy." That's the perspective thing, right there: recognizing how great God's mercy is and acting accordingly.

In the form of being hyper-aware of God's love, I find worship in a couple places. Sometimes when I'm alone, wherever, my mind goes to that place. A lot of the time it's triggered by something, usually nature being beautiful. I definitely believe slowing down to admire nature's beauty is a form of worship. The really awesome instances are when it's triggered by another person; sometimes just thinking about how close they are with God or how I see Him moving in their life will do it. My favorite one is when I see someone's face that has that "worshiping-God-completely-soaked-in-His-love" smile; it's an amazing thing to see, and it gets me every time. I don't see it very often, as I'm not usually looking around during worship at church. Whenever I do get to see that face, though, it's like a beam of love shoots straight from their heart to mine and I turn a very conspicuous shade of happy.

In worship at a church service, you'll often see just a few people raise their hands. I hardly ever did all through middle and high school, and the few times I tried it I just barely got them even with my stomach. The big thing I've learned about worship (I'm sure other people learn other things... this is what my experience was, which I feel can be useful to a lot of Christians today who feel at least partially 'lukewarm') is that you have to make a sacrifice out of your 'dignity,' or perhaps better put 'social awareness,' eliminating all the others around you from your immediate thoughts and turn it into a "just you and God" occasion. Practical things that can take you there are all the little actions that are sung about so often: raising your hands, singing a meaningful phrase over and over to yourself, going to your knees, or even whatever degree of dancing you feel led to. I sway and bop back and forth on my feet a lot. In services where it's practiced, I go down where there's room to do so and dance back and forth (feet achieving lift-off) for the more upbeat songs. I raise my hands a lot; they go up and down and to my heart as I feel like moving them.

My pastor in Williamsburg talks about raising one's hands as a form of surrender to God, which I really like. He referenced the Old West where, to surrender, you would raise your hands away from your guns on your hips. In front of God when you raise your hands you're saying "Alright God, I trust you. You've got control of this situation and I'm making you the priority." The priority is no longer "not looking silly" (which is usually subconscious) or "getting through this singing thing." The priority is praising God for his awesome, awesome mercy. When we take those little steps towards Paul's notion of a new way of living-making our "bodies as living sacrifices," not conforming to the "pattern of this world," things that last longer than just a worship service-we really start to step into that worshipful, "on fire" life that glows from the heart, outward with purpose and love. The kind of stuff people start to notice, because whether they know it or not, what they're searching for is God.

A quick note: This is my third "topical" entry, the other two being the first two of the blog. The others are based off of experiences I've had, although most go into some kind of topical discussion; just as the topical posts will reference experiences. I've labeled each post according to the content and whether it is a topical entry or an experience-based entry, and put up a handy list of all these on the right side of the blog. That way people can jump to content that's more relevant to them... brilliant!

1 comment:

  1. It has been said that God moves in mysterious ways, and I believe it. I love what you said about hyper-awareness. I wish that I could copy that quote here, but for some reason it won't allow copy/paste. Anyway, I feel that since I have come to college, I have encountered so many more people who share my views and as a result, have become closer to God in many ways. There is a reason for everything that happens, regardless if we think so or not. And I really do love that you write about your relationship with God, Zach, because I believe that it really is going to benefit both yourself and the people who read your blog, whether they stumble upon it by accident (like me) or not.

    Thank you for your wise words, and God bless.

    -Na Shai