Lent: The Heart of Worship

Worship is a touchier subject than you might think. I came from a background where the only time anyone raised their hand in church was if either they needed the bathroom or someone was holding a gun! Other churches I’ve been in since have equated worship with music, and used the terms as synonyms, and others have hinted that it’s not worship unless there’s dancing.

Or if there is dancing.

I loved Tony Campolo’s answer in 1990’s Greenbelt festival when asked if he thought Baptists could dance. He smiled and said “Some can, some can’t”. Nice attitude.

The Heart of Worship is making our cations reflect and point our hearts towards Jesus.

As simple as that.

But what is worship then?

Washing the dog. Tidying your room – without being asked. Cooking dinner. Eating dinner.

Any activity can be an act of worship. It depends on the heart behind it.

Something as simple as cooking for another person can be an act of worship to God, but can also be an act of selfishness. We receive our reward based on our heart.

For example: If I write this blog only to get people to comment and then a comment is left, I have my reward. But if I write it with the attitude of wanting to draw closer to Jesus and to share that closeness with others so they can draw closer too, then that is worship – irrespective of whether I get a comment or not.

To be honest, my track record is probably 50/50 on that one.

I want this to be an act of worship. Sometimes I miss the mark, sometimes quite horribly in fact.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in an issue and the issue becomes an idol. Tearing it down becomes more important to me than putting God first. What may have begun in a holy way becomes selfish and self-righteous.

We all do it. Some of the “mega-churches” with massive congregations have a “rock-star” mentality for their worship leaders. The stages are meticulously lit, lights and even pyrotechnics are employed. A far cry from a Jewish carpenter sharing a meal with 12 buddies. The point can get lost.

Which is fine, unless Jesus is the point.

If my ego is the point, by all means lose it. But if Jesus is the point, it’s essential to not lose the point. We need Jesus more than oxygen. More than water. There’s a formula that suggests a rule of 3.

Three minutes without air. Three days without water. Three months without food – maybe. But we die without God just as surely as we do without air. The difference is we don’t realise sometimes.

We need to keep a heart of worship at the centre of our being. Every action can become a learned act of worship to draw closer to God. For Brother Lawrence it was stirring the food at the monastery. For others it may be sitting in silence or singing that is where we start.

I love the scene in “Chariots of Fire” where Eric Liddel says to his sister that when he runs he knows God made him fast, and when he runs he can “feel His pleasure”. That knowledge of God delighting in us is a key part of worship. We rejoice in God, and God delights in us. Our Worship lifts His heart as well as our own. In drawing close to Him, we allow Him to come closer to us.

So drawing Close to God is the heart of Worship. It sounds obvious. But drawing close is something we miss too often by striving to hit the right note. I remember Mike Yaconelli at Greenbelt in 1991 saying about children coming to Jesus just as they were. They simply loved Him. John Avanzini at a conference I went to in the UK in the late 1990’s – I can’t be sure of the exact year but around 1997/8 said we need to be like kids getting before God and yelling “Hey Daddy – Watch THIS!” like a little kid does.

Accept like a child and enter His presence.

Accept like a child and hit the Heart of Worship – Holiness – as a by-product. We can’t help it. It’s too obvious.

So yes, the topic is the heart of Worship, but like I’ve written over the last few weeks, the centre of Worship comes back to a Holy attitude in our lives. We must set ourselves apart to be with God. We need to set ourselves apart to spend time with Him every day.

I may not publish a post every day, but a significant portion of my day os spent researching and praying about what to write. Either I’m working on this set of essays or on the book research I need to do to complete my work on my book project. Or both. Whatever I do, for that time, my whole being is focussed on Jesus. Everything else dissolves into it’s proper place and perspective as I bring my heart close to His.

Mostly.

But I’ve found the Heart of Worship to be more than singing. More than reading.

True Worship involves stripping away anything that gets between me and God. Sometimes that literally means I need to be naked before Him – physically and Spiritually. It’s been impossible to kid myself about where I am with God when I’m stripped literally and figuratively of everything.

Obviously, this is private worship I’m referring to. Even my wife isn’t involved in that part, but in those moments, figuratively locked in my most private room, my phone turned off and the TV and CD player silent I sit and wait. My silence is my Worship. My Worship is through my silence. I listen for God, and He answers. His answers are that He listens to me.

And for that time I know beyond any doubt that I am His child, and He is my daddy.

And my Heart, refreshed, renewed and whole, is ready, willing and able to Worship with all it’s might.

My heart. Your heart. Beating in time with God’s heart.

That’s the Heart of Worship.

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