What are we doing when we worship? Worship meaning engaging in the practices which draw us close to God and in which God draws close to us – prayer, praise, song, hearing the Word, communion…and so on. We are loving the God Who has made Himself known to us and given us everything. We are giving and receiving from the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit. Worship is wonderful but it is also vitally necessary. We need to express our love for God. We need to meet with Him and He meets with us. It is encounter, it is experience, it is essential.
What is worship doing to us? Here’s the flipside; and a different way to look at it. What do the practices – prayer, praise, song, hearing the Word, communion… – do to us in return? Without for one second cancelling out the expressive side to worship, we can also think about the formative side to worship. Worship in a sense, trains us to point our lives toward God.
Nobody is more helpful in this than philosopher, James K A Smith. Below is a 45 min talk where he talks about worship in the very broadest sense and shares some big ideas. Those big ideas are:
1) Human beings are not primarily thinkers.
2) We often think something but then behave differently.
3) This is because human beings are primarily lovers/desirers/wanters.
4) We behave according to what we love, desire, want.
5) There are many options for what to worship – some bad stuff!
6) Christian worship is formative. That means, it trains us to love the right thing – God!
Smith isn’t really a boring guy, so I’d encourage you to watch the whole thing: