Over the past several years I have had the privilege of studying under many gifted professors. I have heard some amazing lectures. I have entered into rich dialogue with other students. At many points along the way I have wanted to blog about the experience. However, being a graduate student does not allow for much time to blog. I can only hope that as I continue to reflect upon these experiences that I'll be able to share more with you.
But the other day, when I came across the following, I just knew that I had to share it right away. In the middle of an exposition on the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), Ross Hastings spoke about participatory worship.
Many of us in the evangelical tradition tend to emphasize grace, which is good. The gospel is good news, and there is nothing we can do to earn God's favor apart from Jesus Christ. However, when we start talking about worship it seems that grace is no longer part of the equation. Our worship seems to revolve around it being just that, OUR worship. We seem to forget Revelation 4:8 "Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come." (NIV, emphasis mine) They NEVER stop saying. Worship is eternal and we are blessed to be able to enter into it. And even these four living creatures here are not the beginning of worship. Worship begins in and with the Trinity.
"When it comes to worship, we have lost something in the evangelical tradition. Worship is not just objective (worshiping God for who He is), nor is it merely subjective (my feelings about God, etc). The missing piece is that it's participatory. This is what transforms us.
Who of us is sufficient to worship God properly? None of us. Which worship leader in our churches is sufficient to do a good enough job of worshiping God? We mess up all the time. It's inadequate. Our concentration is weak and feeble. But here's the amazing truth of worship and I've come to see this in light of the teaching of Jesus as our great high priest. This is the missing element. Jesus is called the "leitourgias" in Hebrews chapter 8. He is the liturgy leader. And we worship by the Spirit through the Son to the Father. In other words, worship is facilitated by the high priesthood of Christ...
Many of us believe in justification by faith, but worship by works. [As if] salvation is something God did, [and] worship is something I do. Rather, worship is something I get to participate in, this amazing cycle of praise that is going on within the Trinity all the time."