I don’t love worship!
Yes, it is true I don’t love worship. Are you shocked?
Now …you need to read on, or I fear you’ll get the wrong end of the stick by what I mean by this.
Sardis & Midas
I am sure you know the story of King Midas …you know the guy who quite literally had the “golden touch”. There are various versions of the Midas myth, and one tradition among many has it that he was king of the city of Sardis, one of the Churches to whom the book of Revelation is addressed.
The Golden Touch
As I’m sure you know Midas was granted the gift of turning to gold whatever he touched. One version of the story has him touching all the roses in his garden, so they were golden. His daughter was distraught that she could no longer smell their beautiful blossom and went to her father upset about this. Seeing her distress, Midas reached out to comfort her, and yes, she also turned to gold.
What / who is it we love?
Myths like Midas are meant to teach us something. Clearly, one of those lessons is that we should be careful what we wish for! But fundamentally, the story of Midas also speaks to what we love and desire.
Midas thought he loved gold, its look and the wealth it could bring him. His love for this shaped him, it literally formed how he interacted with the world around him. But there was a cost, a great cost. Midas learned that what he truly loved was his daughter …and his misdirected or corrupted love destroyed his ability to fully love that which was truly precious to him.
What’s your point caller?
In a sports radio phone-in show the pundits and “experts” will often ask a caller, “What’s your point?”.
So, what’s my point? Why start by saying “I don’t love worship” and then go on to tell the story of Midas? I mean the story of Midas is not even in the Bible!
What we love shapes us.
All truth is God’s truth, and the story of Midas reminds us that what we love shapes us and that we can often love the wrong things with terrible consequences.
What we love the most shapes what we desire, what we “go after”, it shapes our dreams and ambitions. It shapes how we interact with people around us, our neighbourhoods, and the world God has created. It shapes how we spend our time, our money, our energies.
We worship who & what we love.
Another word which expresses what we love the most is worship.
Or to put it more accurately, we worship whom or what we love. I don’t love worship because we are not called to love worship, we are called to love God.
For sure, I love worshipping …as human beings, we are made to worship …the critical issue is who or what are we worshipping.
Worship forms us.
Worshipping God, loving him with all that we are, forms and shapes us on at least two levels. It forms and shapes us because when we love God and worship him, we are not loving and worshipping a blank canvas. We have an image and understanding of who God is, he has revealed who he is to us, and in response to this, and what he has done in our lives, we worship him.
As we give ourselves to worshipping God, to loving him with all that we are, so we participate in the activity not just of the Spirit, but of the throne room of God! What an amazing thought.
The book of Revelation gave the churches in Asia Minor a fresh and renewed vision of who God is, a fresh and renewed vision of Jesus, and of the Spirit.
As you know I wear glasses. They constantly need to be cleaned as day-to-day activities mean they get dirty, and this can obscure and distort my vision.
Likewise, our daily living in a world which constantly wants to draw our worship away from God smears, obscures and distorts our vision of God. We constantly need to “clean our glasses” to reorientate ourselves so we are worshipping God in spirit and truth and not our mere projections of who we want God to be or who the world tells us God should be.
Revelation 4 & 5
This, in many ways, is what we have in Revelation 4 and 5. John is lifted up into heaven so he can recount to the churches he loves, a new and fresh vision of God which will wash away the grime of living in an idol-filled society, which wants them to constantly compromise their worship of the one true and living God.
Worship and Works go together.
Were you surprised at how many times in Revelation 2 and 3 the word works was used? I was.
The works of several of the churches John was writing to had gone off-kilter, they had become distorted …lacking love, lacking the power of the Spirit. This is a sure sign that their worship had also become distorted.
So, to help restore them and bring correction to their works and worship, John, in the Spirit, continues to give them a fresh vision of God, that their worship and their works may align in giving glory to God and bringing life into all areas of their lives.
Worshipping God rightly helps us love and serve and participate in the works he has given us, in a way that honours him and brings glory to his name. Indeed, our works become an extension of our worship of God.
My Prayer for Sunday
My prayer for Sunday is that as we worship together in song, in deed, in listening, our eyes would be cleansed, and the grime of this world, which so easily pollutes our sight, would be washed off. I pray we would have a fresh and renewed vision of who God is, which would inspire us to deeper and purer and truer worship of God and works in the power of his Spirit, for his glory and his name’s sake.
Not only was Eugene Peterson full of godly wisdom, but he wrote beautifully …he is, I find, a joy to read. So, let’s end with some wisdom from Eugene.
The end result of the act of worship is that our lives are turned around. We come to God with a history of naysaying or rejecting and being rejected. At the throne of God, we are immersed in God’s yes, a yes that silences all our noes and calls forth an answering yes in us.