Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Why do it?

A few years ago, when I was first caught up in a total revolution of my concept of God and what he meant in my life (including whether I must capitalize "he" in writing about God) I fell in love with something called 'worship'. Now, I know I've been worshipping God all my life, but the topic of worship -- what it is, why do it, how, and so forth -- became a focus for me and some of my friends.

Others of my friends completely didn't get the concept of worship, even tho it's written up in the Bible. I mean, looking at it from a human viewpoint, what kind of personality needs to be praised and complimented all the time? If one of my friends acted that way, I'd have to have a long talk with him or her about insecurity and peace. Do you really want to have a person like that around you? I don't! And how about those megalomaniac rulers in this world, who demand their followers tell them how great they are? If God is like that, and wants to burn me when I don't give him enough of it, I don't think I want anything to do with him. Would you?? But if God is love, why does he need all this praise stuff?

C.S. Lewis, one of the clearest writers in English on Christianity in the 20th century, asked that question too. He wrote a book, Reflections on the Psalms, and wondered aloud why so many times the scripture says something like this, in Psalm 8:1 -- "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Lewis's conclusion in that book was, worshipping God is simply to recognize who he is and what he's like, and respond accordingly. "To worship God is merely to be awake, to have entered the real world," he writes. So to be truly paying attention to reality, seeing how great God really is, would that help us worship?

Two metaphors that help this make sense to me: one is my memory of walking into a room at a museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma where a huge painting was hanging, depicting a morning in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with a lake and deer in the foreground. It filled my whole field of view, and just took my breath away. I was stunned by its beauty. The other idea is what it means to show appreciation to someone (I think first of my wife, The Amazing Joanne) for her traits or a gift she's given me.

If we apply those ideas to God, what do we have? Being bowled over by how great he really is, when we get a glimpse of that; and being filled with appreciation and excitement about all he has done for us; those are some of the ways we can be aware of reasons to worship him.

Who he is, and what he's done; both of them knock me over every time I really hone in on them. It makes me want to dance, sing, shout, kneel, bow, reach up to him in love, and a lot of other actions and thoughts.

How about you? Have you had a glimpse of him lately? How did you react?

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