“Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.”
– Psalm 37:1-6
Love is many things. There’s the love of a child for a parent and a parent for a child. There’s the love of friendship and companionship, the deep bonds of affection between two likeminded individuals. Perhaps most famously (and occasionally tritely), there’s the romantic love between people, made notorious through prose, poem, song and story.
There are more, but these are the definitions of love that the world singles out as most important, most worthy of respect and the validation of society. And those of us in the know, know in our turn that the different iterations of love placed on pedestals in the world’s popular culture are the reflections, the merest mirrors of that greatest of all definitions: the love of God for us all. As it often does, the world sets up its own variations to avoid having to dwell upon the real thing, the thing it’s missing.
More than anything, though, love is a verb, a doing word. I love, you love, he-she-it loves. We love, they love, the whole world loves, and God so loved the world that He gave His only son. Love is something you demonstrate, or it’s not worthy of the name. And to be properly worthy, love isn’t something that you demonstrate once, or even twice. It’s a permanent state, this pale reflection: a shadow of the awesome, staggering and unconditional love that we experience from the Father of us all.
Our response to that love? Worship. But no worship of such a God would be worthwhile, would be worthy of Him, if it was something we simply did once, or even twice. Just as love isn’t just for Christmas, worship isn’t just for Sunday mornings, and it doesn’t need backing by a band. The fact is, worship is for life, and it’s a permanent state of being. We never exit worship.
Once we’ve touched the sublime grace that is the keystone of God’s heart for us, once we’ve felt the boundless passion of the Creator of all things, for His creation, simply parroting that back by rote won’t do. Glimpsing the merest hint of that overwhelming love touches something deep inside of us all, releasing the power of revelation into our lives. It’s not possible to feel all of that and stay the same person, and it’s not possible to feel all of that and not want to reciprocate. But how? He’s given us so much…what do you give the Man who has everything? You give Him all you are.
That’s worship, or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be done. The unconditional, unswerving nature of God’s love empowers our faith. How can it not—it defines the Lord of all things as being the most reliable person there ever was, or ever will be. That faith allows for the possibility of giving oneself completely over to worship. After all, it’s completely safe to do so when the person you’re giving yourself over to is 100% trustworthy, can be relied upon to safeguard you at all times and in all things. God’s staggering love for us effectively provides us with the excuse—the permission, the mandate—to become lost in the rhythm of His heartbeat.
But worship isn’t a passive, one way thing, from our lips to God’s ear. If anything, it’s the other way around: God is never passive in any circumstance. Why would worship be the exception? He is actively engaged with us. Just as we reach out to Him with everything we are, celebrating all that He is, allowing our hearts to go out to Him, so too He reaches out to us, forever meeting us at least halfway.
His delight over us turns into our delight over Him. Our hearts move in time with His, and all self-consciousness slips away. We no longer have the luxury of berating ourselves for the things we are not, because seen through the lens of His love for us, we bask in how He sees us, and who He is for us. We step over to the side of the cross that stands for resurrection, out of the shadow of the crucifixion that whispers to us of all the sins that Christ needed to take on for us. In high praise, we ascend to a High Place, touching Heaven.
That’s what true worship is all about. It’s inspiration: envisioning our place in Jesus and our place beside Him, around the throne. Worship is a life-enhancing experience, transforming us by revitalising us from the inside out. We step into the presence of God in our inner selves, away from the outer aspect of our lives. Inside, we’re always with Him, and He is always with us. We step away from the negative and into the positive, reclaiming and then maintaining the inner territory lost to anxiety, fear and doubt. Our hearts become opened, renewed in Jesus.
And like all true expressions of intimacy, of love: worship is never dull. It’s said that reading a good story is like stepping into a river: the form may be similar, but you can never stand in the same torrent twice. We’re different people from one moment to the next, and so our experience of God and of worship will change according to circumstance, and according to the aspect of Himself that He needs to show us at any given moment. There’s no system to it, no rote or patterns that requires observance. It’s not about what we do, but about what we allow to happen inside of us.
Worship, like the river, flows with us and moves past and through us. As we respond, we enter into a relationship with Him that is both intimate and bold, tender and brash all at once. This is the nature of true worship: it doesn’t require us to follow the leader, to clap along or to find a tune. The ability to sing is irrelevant, and finding the right notes on an instrument is even more so… \worship isn’t about doing something correctly, but about being caught up in the moment with Him so much, that it becomes involuntary, something done despite ourselves, because of an incandescent need to express some measure of thanks and reciprocation for all of that endless love we experience from Him.
We never stop worshipping Him, not when we’re truly honest with ourselves. Worship is the melody that defines us as Christians, as people, as individuals. It’s either in the foreground or the background of our hearts for as long as they beat, and when it does come to the fore, we cannot help but give ourselves over it it wholeheartedly, without reserve. Ask yourself about the tune you hear within your own heart, the vibration of love you feel as you echo the sound of His delight. Worship is our joy in His joy. What does your joy feel like to you?
For more material on the astonishing, incredible love of the Father and our response to Him through fellowship and worship, be sure to check out Uncommon Love. Uncommon Love is a CD or MP3 teaching at Brilliant Book House that is available at a special price through all of February. In a month devoted to love, don’t forget the One who will always love you no matter what! Shop for Uncommon Love.