Monday, April 19, 2010

Come, Now Is the Time to Worship

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

The best definition I've ever heard for the word worship was given by Voddie Baucham. Quoting one of his professors, he said, "Worship is setting our mind's attention and heart's affection on God and praising Him for who He is and what He has done for us in Christ." Well said. It is with this definition in mind that I strive to lead the time of worship on Sunday evenings at my local church. I attempt to select songs that proclaim biblical truth about who God is and what He has done for us in Christ, and then encourage our congregation to focus on the revelation of these truths and respond in adoration, thanksgiving, and joy. My goal has been to help them become active participants in worshiping God, rather than either spectators who look around and watch everyone else sing or robots who multitask by singing the same old familiar hymns all while thinking of the endless things that need to be done in preparation for the upcoming work week.

However, lately it has been becoming more clear to me that worship is not something we only do in a church service. As Beth Moore put it, "What happens in worship doesn't stay in worship; we live it out." I've been studying the book of Habakkuk. This little book, often overlooked on the way to the major prophets or the Gospels, gives us a vivid look at worship playing out in real life. Habakkuk is struggling with the fact that the people of Judah are living in vile sin under a wicked king and God seems to be nowhere around. Then God assures Habakkuk that not only is He present, but He is working His plan to judge Judah and is going to use a heathen nation, the Chaldeans, to do it. So now Habakkuk complains to God that He shouldn't use a wicked nation to judge God's chosen people. And God simply answers by saying that the wicked, both of Judah and of the Chaldeans will get their due and those faithful to Him will be saved. Then what takes place in the final chapter is utterly breathtaking. Habakkuk prays to God, acknowledging the futility of those who would try to do battle against the Mighty Warrior whose power knows no rival. And then Habakkuk breaks into a song, rejoicing in God's the steadfast hope of God's faithfulness to His people according to His promises. Habakkuk begins setting his mind's attention and heart's affection on God and praises Him for who He is and what He not only has done, but also for what He is going to do. Even in the midst of unspeakable economic uncertainty and inevitable invasion by an unstoppable enemy, Habakkuk is able to focus on the only One who can and will deliver him and his country. And what is utterly amazing is that Habakkuk isn't turning to God in hopes that He will save him, but worshiping the God whom he knows will save him.

May we do the same in the days in which we live. May we live worship out. May we focus on the One who has saved us and has promised to never leave us or forsake us. And may we praise the One who has promised that He is coming back to get us, that where He is we may also be.