Mar6TueGospel Wakefulness, Our Posture of Worship March 6, 2018
This week, even though a chapter in The Imperfect Disciple—“The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed”—was on deck, I’m going to share some thoughts from Gospel Wakefulness as I did last week.
This week, my thoughts arose out of this quotation from Wilson:
The danger we face when we worship is coming into the experience assuming we are summoning God. We assume that worship is our initiative. There are of course plenty of examples in the Scriptures of a worshiper asking God to "draw near" or "come by,” but the tenor of so much of our worship does not reflect scriptural worship, which presupposes no one seeks God whom God has not sought. Yet much of evangelical worship implicitly assumes we are the ones in control, that we are bringing the best of ourselves and our holy desire to worship, when the reality is that worship does not begin with the worshiper. It begins with God. It is a response to God's calling upon us. (88)
What Wilson is getting at pertains to our mental and emotional posture as we worship. He is examining our motives, affections, and thinking as we participate in the glorifying of God in corporate settings. Wilson suggests that in corporate worship-through-singing situations we wrongly perceive ourselves as the initiator of that worship and the “summoner” of God.
First, I think this is an accurate diagnosis of some people’s approach to worship. We can show up on Sunday forgetting that the only people who truly worship God are those whom God has drawn to himself. My Bible reading plan today had me considering Psalm 53 and its declaration that “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (ESV). I think a proper “posture” for worship would include the recognition that as we come to worship God we do so only because of his gracious act of giving us a new heart that seeks after him.
Second, Wilson is also indicating that some corporate worship situations include (many?) people who believe that their worship is somehow summoning God. This is more akin to magic than worship; our songs and praise work like some sort of spell to raise up God in our midst. This is also a dangerous and inappropriate posture. God forbid we ever, even unconsciously, believe God is to be beckoned by us. We must remember that the “Call to Worship” is a call for us to come and worship and not a call for God to come and be worshipped.
These ideas are an admonition to us, who gather for corporate worship, that God is the initiator and we are the responders, that God is primary and essential in terms of our worship and our actions are secondary and dependent on Him. What will be the effect of heeding this admonition? The effect will be a safeguarding of our corporate worship against self-seeking which will ensure that our corporate praise is primarily focused on God and not on ourselves.