There’s a song that we sing in our songbook, with the not-so-subtle title of “Praise Him! Praise Him!” There’s no question what the basis of that song is about, but if there were, the chorus would clear it up in less than 20 words:
Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of excellent greatness!
Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song!
Those words written so long ago are a call to action of sorts for us, to not only extol the virtues of God’s majesty, but also to tell others of the majesty of God as well, in hopes that the world might recognize the one true God. If you read the actual words of this particular hymn, it will soon strike you that this type of song can only be written by someone who recognizes God’s power and who is overflowing with abundant love towards Him as well. It may surprise you then, to note that the author, Fanny Crosby, was blind.
Due to a tragic doctor’s error at six weeks old, Fanny Crosby never had the blessing of sight for most of her life. And although you would think that a song like this could be written by someone who has seen the beauty of God’s creation, Mrs. Crosby would be quoted as saying quite the opposite: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” In other words, it was because, rather than in spite of her blindness, that she glorified God all the more.
An attitude like that puts most of ours to shame. As the poster child of “grudging worship” more times than I care to admit, I can attest to the difficulty many of us have of making worship “real” and “engaging” to us, for whatever that’s worth. Because of this aspect of human nature, denominations have sought to take out the fundamental aspect of worship (which is, ironically, to worship), and replace it with entertainment. Live bands. Light shows. All the things that are designed to get you “into it,” you will find in most modern denominations. Sadly, all of this misses the point.
Worship is defined as “giving spiritual homage to one who is worthy of devotion.” That’s an accurate definition, albeit a little brief. A.W. Tozer defined it this way: “What is worship? Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven.” Worship then comes from within, an awe and wonder and astonishment that comes from our hearts, and is poured out naturally in song and prayer.
So that begs the question, who is worthy of my worship? Denominations that seek to entertain answer that question by saying “self,” as the main motivation for those light shows and rock bands are to entertain the individual. True worship seeks to honor God through our worship. Designed by Him, desired by Him, a worship service from people who claim to be children of God should be done with authority from the Bible, not the impulses of man.
And God is worthy of such worship. A quick reading of the adoration given in Revelation 4-5 will use the word “worthy” over and over again in reference to all the things that God has done – the God of creation (Ps. 29:1-11) and the God of our salvation (Acts 14:15-18). In contrast to that are all the things that idols have done (Is. 44:12-17; 1 Kings 18:25-29). If we are looking for s/Someone to worship, the options do not get better than with Jehovah God!
But why does God need our worship? This question has been asked several times, as if God is some kind of narcissistic bully that simply created us for His worship. In reality though, the one who needs worship is not as much God, but us. God asks for and demands worship in part so that we can learn to honor and respect His authority. When a father demands his son to respect his elders, is it for the elder’s sake, or the son’s? When Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his goods to the poor in order to be complete, was it for God’s sake or the ruler’s? Worship is given to God according to His rules and adoration, not because He is an egomaniac, but because He is our Creator, and proper respect and honor demands our obedience.
Sadly, many times I have even seen people worshipping truthfully, but their heart is far from the actions at hand. Staring into the distance, going through the motions, glaring at the child two rows to their left, manicuring their fingernails – all evidences of a distant heart (Mal. 1; Is. 1:10-15). There’s a story about a monk who announced to the village that the King would not be in attendance to worship services the following sunday. When the King walked in and saw an empty room, he inquired of the monk as to the reason, to which the monk responded, “Dear King, I told them you were not coming, because I wanted to know who worshipped the King, and who worshipped the Father.” With that in mind, why am I even here? Is it to fulfill a spiritual commandment in letter, or to worship and adore the Creator who made my heart? Answering these questions will reveal your true intention to yourself – an intention that God is already well aware of.Last modified: February 12, 2019