How worship shapes you [Part 2 – The how of who]
Ever been to a Worship Service or Mass or Liturgy and left with your faith feeling a little deflated? Without going on a series of long-winded diatribes, I believe there is one key point that needs to be understood in order to raise the bar for a good, disciple-forming worship experience.
The Key To Great Worship
Lex orandi, lex credendi. Yup, that’s it. Blog post finished.
Ok, but if you’re not a Latin scholar or haven’t been bombarded with the phrase, here’s the deal:
- it’s an ancient church principle (originating over 1500 years ago) that guides the evolution of worship.
- it means “as the law of prayer is, so is the law of faith” or in English, “the way we pray is the way we believe”.
So basically, the way in which you pray forms the things that you believe.
Action Forms State
You can actually see this kind of concept all over the place. Broadening it from “the way we pray is the way we believe” to “the way we act is the way we will be” opens up a whole bunch of examples, like…
- If you run often and keep pushing yourself, your body will become fitter, you’ll enjoy running, and you’ll desire to keep getting fitter.
- If you spend the majority of your time around positive and motivated people, the desire to become like them will soon become the realisation that you are in fact like them.
- Or negatively: if you practice a musical instrument haphazardly – and when you do practice, it’s rushed and unfocussed – you won’t progress much, you’ll lose interest, give up, and perhaps even end up resenting music.
So, you could say “action forms state”. Makes sense, right?
Prayer is the Action, Faith is the State
Now, if faith is a flow-on effect of prayer or worship, and if faith shapes life, then it follows that the way you pray has huge influence on the way you live and experience life.
In last week’s post I mentioned that who you worship can shape you. And I think it’s fairly obviously the case. But almost as important is the how with which you worship that who. Why? Because the how should reflect the who. And if it doesn’t, you’ve just got a mess of contradiction. Can you really call that worship?
3 Things To Be Aware Of
Ok. So what to do? How can you make sure your how reflects your who?
Well, assuming the who is God as revealed through Jesus, I think there are three things to be particularly mindful of…
1. Transcendence (or ‘awe’) – being focused outside of yourself and on God. It’s far too easy to fall into the practice of normalising worship, bringing it down to a more palatable level that can easily satisfy the senses. But Jesus said “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
A worshipper ‘in awe’ is in their right place before God who is so much more than we can ever imagine. God’s out-of-this-world inconceivable awesomeness is reflected.
2. Obedience – yeah that lovely motivator-of-pop-culture word you see all over the media…not. You are not the boss of you. Or the boss of worship for that matter. It can be tempting to tweak things in worship to reflect your own thoughts of what’s important.
But usually history has wisdom. Which is not to say the status quo should remain unchallenged for all eternity (unless the status quo in question is that God is the head honcho ad infinitum). Neither should practices remain the same “for ever and ever, Amen”. But learn obedience. Submit. Follow. If obedience was good enough for Jesus, it’s probably good enough for you too.
An obedient worshipper is more maleable in God’s hands. God’s desire to conform us to the image of Jesus is reflected.
3. Service – because ignoring those around you kinda flies in the face of following Jesus. Who came “not to be served but to serve”. Who “loved … to the end”. Who told us to “do what I have done”.
Right from the beginning of Christianity, concern for the poor was part of what defined the Christian community when it gathered for worship. And yet I see loose change chucked on the plate in an upper class suburb; regulars glaring off the newcomer who dares “steal” their seat; musos arguing over how to play a song… Now I’m not suggesting that the opposite never happens. But can you honestly tell me you’ve never seen something similar? Or maybe even been part of it?
Be the one with the servant’s heart. A serving worshipper sees as God sees. God’s self-sacrificing love is reflected.
So worship God! And worship in awe, with obedience and service.
Question: What does worshipping in awe, or with obedience, or with service look like for you? Or is there a ‘how’ that I’ve left out? You can comment by clicking here.