- By Michael Mathews
- On Nov.12.2013
Worship is sometimes portrayed as a bygone of mankind’s more primitive past, but the simple truth is that we can’t not worship. In The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky writes, “So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship.” Whether it is a career or a family, a team or a hobby, a philosophy or an organization, we look to something to bless our lives with significance, security and satisfaction. Dostoevsky is right. Worship is the central calling of humanity - the activity for which all human beings are made. If this is true, if worship is indeed central to who we are, then we would be wise to attempt to understand it better. Our word for “worship” is derived from the old English word “worth-ship” and therefore to worship is to invest our affections in something or someone who we deem worthy. The belief of Christians is that the only one worthy of the investment of our affections and the sacred desires of our hearts is the triune God who created all that is seen and unseen. In Christian worship we seek to rediscover the worth of God and through worship we are reunited with God and his image is slowly restored in us. This is why true Christian worship seeks to be God-centered rather than man-centered. The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, because man’s great need is God, but worship that promotes self-aggrandizement, self-help, or self-salvation will certainly contribute to a self-focused lifestyle and ultimately result in self-worship. By contrast, worship that explains the biblical story of redemption, the story of a good and gracious God who has given himself for the restoration of his creation, will by definition result in praise directed toward God. And as we rejoice and sing praises to the God who rejoices over us and sings over us, we are ushered into his presence, where he anoints our heads and pours oil on our wounds. As we let go of all the unworthy gods that have captured the affections of our hearts and redirect those affections to the only One worthy of them, we find true healing and greater peace. Worship is transformative, and that is why we desire that worship services be both beautiful and intelligible. Worship services should be thoughtfully arranged so that they tell the story of redemption but through words and music that provide a greater sense of the transcendent nature of God. Worship should meet us where we are but call us out of ourselves and into greater union with the God who created us and the Savior who died for us.