Saturday, May 16, 2009

Philip Yancey on Authentic Worship

'Christianity claims a unique place among the world's religions. Our faith tells of a God before whom the strongest saints took off their shoes, bowed down, fell on their faces, repented in dust and ashes. At the same time it tells of a God who came to Earth as a baby, who showed tender mercies to children and the weak, who taught us to call him "Abba," who loved and was loved. God is both transcendent and immanent, the theologians say. God inspires at once awe and love, fear and friendship.

'To most moderns, however, a sense of awe comes with the greatest difficulty. We have domesticated angels into stuffed toys and Christmas ornaments, made cartoons of St. Peter at the gate of heaven, tamed the phenomenon of Easter with bunny rabbits, and substituted for the awe of shepherds and wise men cute elves and a jolly man dressed in red. Almighty God gets nicknames like 'The Big Guy' and 'The Man Upstairs.'

'An article in the February 2005 issue of this magazine addressed one of my pet peeves. How did it happen that the word worship became synonymous with music? For several months my church went on a hunt for a "worship pastor," and a parade of candidates auditioned with their guitars and backup groups. Some of them prayed, yes: 'Lord, just, you know, really be here tonight with us, just let us know you're here.' None showed much knowledge of theology, and assuredly none led us toward anything like awe. Worship today means loudly filling every space of silence.

'I welcome the sense of celebration and joy apparent in much recent music. Yet I wonder what we are missing when we seek to reduce the distance between creature and Creator, a distance expressed so eloquently by Job, Isaiah, and the psalmists. John, the disciple Jesus loved, who had lain against Jesus' breast, records in Revelation that he fell at his feet as though dead when Jesus appeared in full glory...."

-- excerpted from Philip Yancey's "Christianity Today" essay, "A Bow and a Kiss"
© 2005 Christianity Today. May 2005, Vol. 49, No. 5, Page 80


EH said...

This is true and saddening...

Oh that we would focus on the central foundational aspect of all... that being Jesus Christ...that our worship would be more than singing and that our worship would burn hot out of an awe and respect of a HOLY and RIGHTEOUS GOD who is jealous for our hearts to be holy and set apart to and for HIS glory. May our lives reflect that of being set apart for Him and for His glory... this only comes in and through and by Jesus Christ. " Woe is me for I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King the LORD of hosts!!!"

Stephen said...

The Puritans prayed: "Glorious God, it is the flame of my life to worship Thee, the crown and glory of my soul to adore Thee, heavenly pleasure to approach Thee. Give me power by Thy Spirit to help me worship now, that I may forget the world, be brought into fullness of life, be refreshed, comforted, blessed. Give me knowledge of Thy goodness that I might not be over-awed by Thy greatness; give me Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, that I might not be terrified, but drawn near with filial love, with holy boldness; He is my Mediator, Interpreter, Branch, Judge, Lamb; Him I glorify, in Him I am set on high. I am pardoned through the blood of Jesus--give me a new sense of it, continue to pardon me by it; may I come every day to the fountain, and every day to be washed anew, that I may worship Thee always in Spirit and Truth." (Valley of Vision: Worship)

They seemed to understand that authentic worship is a daily service of prayer, repentance, and commitment because, as Yancey asserts, "God inspires at once awe and love, fear and friendship."

Douglas Phillips said...

Stephen, the quote you cited was so good, I'm going to make it a separate post. thanks.