Swept off your Feet
Part 3: A Conviction for Worship
Prepare for a Season Change―Worship Wars, Worship Stigmas, and Worship Mavens
Jesus announced a fascinating fact to an inquisitive woman in Samaria. He said: “You worship what you do not know [oída]; we worship what we know [oída] (John 4:22 NAS). Gaining knowledge involves three components, in no particular order. Two are bottom-up since they rely on empirical evidence. The third is top-down since it relies on direct revelation from God. 1. Awareness, based on sensory perception 2. Understanding, based on a rational assessment 3. Revelation, based on God’s word illuminated by the Holy Spirit
On a clear day, Hubbard Glacier thrills onlookers with its awe-inspiring beauty. Framed by Mount Logan and Mount St. Elias, the second and third tallest mountains in North America, Hubbard spans an area bigger than the state of Rhode Island. It stretches for 76 miles (120 km) beginning near the summit of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest elevation with the most expansive base of any non-volcanic mountain on Earth.
How well do you know God? Do you relate with intimate feeling or under false pretense? Are you aware of His proper name? Do you interact on a first name basis? Are you offended by the fact that you may not know God as well as you think you do? Are you engaged with confident closeness or distracted by vague illusion? Is your Heavenly Father a living person or a theological concept—an abiding presence or an elusive notion?
Agur probes our divine acquaintance. In Proverbs 30 he wrote:
“What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!”
God has a name and it is not God.
In “Putting an End to Worship Wars”, Elmer Towns states:
Christians have disagreed, and they have fought. They have destroyed churches, split churches, and quit churches…. They have ostracized pastors, criticized pastors, and fired pastors―all over worship.
Abusive leaders have imposed harsh penalties for not honoring God according to their traditions. Divergent parishioners experienced unwarranted reproach, reproof, and censure. Convicted heretics experienced excommunication, torture, and/or death for alleged violations.
The Bible does not dictate a preferred response for worshipers. It avoids imperative commands and approved protocols. Unlike rules for offerings and sacrifices, it issues neither detail nor directive for style and substance. Instead, the Bible emphasizes what worshipers stopped doing when they conveyed reverence. Nearly everyone stopped standing, stopped looking, and most stopped speaking. Angels, demons, and humans pressed themselves low to exalt God’s highness. Smitten by His glory, they offered unsolicited veneration―more by what they did not do than by anything they did.
When “we faceup to the glory of God, we soon find ourselves facedown in worship.”
When the Truth about God appeared in person, an unlikely entourage spent their wealth and risked their lives to worship Him. Matthew, a redeemed tax collector, describes the first humans outside of heaven to worship Jesus. Before offering gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, magi “from the east” (literally, from the rising) fell facedown, venerating Him as “King of the Jews” and as “Messiah”. After entering the house where He stayed, they
saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. (Matthew 2:11)
With astrological insight based on prophetic revelation, this caste of Zoroastrian priests took the lead in worshiping Jesus―and they worshiped Him according to heaven’s facedown precedent. Our Heavenly Father found pagan experts offering the same homage on earth that Jesus receives in heaven.
With 2:44 left in the game, the Denver Broncos overcame a 15-0 deficit against the Miami Dolphins. Denver’s 24-year old quarterback Tim Tebow led his professional football team in a dramatic overtime victory. During the celebration, he took a knee and bowed his head in the trademark pose, which he coined as quarterback for the University of Florida.
God doesn’t need worship to validate His divine nature. He’s really good at being God―all by Himself. Attentive worshipers understand this fact. With nothing to prove and no one to impress, they convey reverence without ulterior motives.
Our Heavenly Father welcomes intercession and petition but worship is not an avenue for asking favors. He promotes repentance and contrition but worship is not a method for penance. True worshipers refrain from venerating God as a means to an end―their worship is as an end in itself. Worship is neither the pregame show for teaching and preaching nor a technique for gaining revelation or direction.
For one devoted instant, informed worshipers stop trying to improve their world or themselves. Without pursuing hidden agendas or promoting pet programs, they honor God with an unmistakable priority. Self-serving rituals, ceremonies, and programs may be useful, edifying, and God-ordained but they are not worship.
Seated upon His throne, Jesus plans to return and sweep His bride off her feet. Rather than shocking her into a catatonic stupor, Jesus anticipates an informed bride―one that knows the truth about her relationship with Him. Like the wise virgins in Jesus’ parable, she has “made herself ready”―ready to behold her bridegroom in a stunning new light.
Worshipers are preparing themselves for a strong finish so they might greet Jesus with more than a dumbfounded stare or flabbergast-ed jabber. As His glorious bride, they will make His praise glorious. En-lightened worshipers comprehend God’s divine accolades. They live poised to venerate Jesus for all He’s worth.
Human History has yet to Record the Response that our Heavenly Father Merits.
The events surrounding Christ’s return promise to fulfill the deepest longing of every redeemed believer. Wolfhart Pannenberg describes the Eschaton as “the epitome of Christian hope”. Arguably, one of the most decisive moments in history, this occasion will ignite a decisive season change. The end times will not last forever but connecting with Jesus will extend through eternity.
Mavens are trusted experts. They know the truth and comprehend its significance. Being both knowledgeable and experienced, they exert a far-reaching and long-lasting influence. The word maven (also mavin) comes from the Hebrew/Yiddish language. It literally means, “one who understands”. Mavens understand the facts and they communicate them with authority.
Our Heavenly Father seeks worshipers who understand and experience the truth. By the quality of their words and the integrity of their deeds, worship mavens convey effusive gratitude with the passion of an affectionate lover. Since they appraise God’s worth with in-depth understanding, they articulate highest praise with informed intensity.