Monday, January 9, 2012

True Worship

My study of John Stott's The Living Church continues with his idea of true Christian worship. According to Stott, true Christian worship has four main characteristics:

1. Biblical worship. A seemingly contradictory set of actions take place during worship. We shout aloud and we kneel. We engage in fortissimo and piano. We cry out for joy and weep with repentance. This range of emotions mirrors the range of emotions of the Bible itself. Each worship service moves from the fall of man, through the law, to the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ. Each service travels through the Bible in its entirely and places us on our spiritual journey for the rest of the week, re-aligning us on the straight and true path God wants us on.

2. Congregational worship. You can't get more corporate than the Lord's Supper. Thomas Cranmer envisioned the people all gathered around the table, participating in the Eucharist. This was a radical departure from the non-participatory nature of the worship service at that time. The congregation did not even get to partake in communion, and as the services at the time were in Latin, no one understood anything. Cranmer's idea is still radical, as churches still engage in largely non-participatory services, even the rapidly-growing non-denominational churches. Humans still desire to be audience members rather than disciples.

3. Spiritual worship. The Christian worship service is the only place to find true transcendence. There is no need for drugs, sex, cults, mysticism, or eastern, new age, or sci-fi practices. In the presence of the trinity, one will find him or herself transported onto a supernatural plain. As we reject modernism and post-modernism, we find ourselves in reality, which consists of both natural and supernatural realms.

4. Moral worship. Worship is not relegated to Sundays. Worship flows through all of life. As we move through all three of our main spaces--home, work, and church (or thirdspace)--we feel the presence of the Lord in our lives. He is near, he is true, and he is deep. He is actively interested in all we feel or do. He is ever-present, and that knowledge gives us the strength to live life in his Image. We reject destructive lifestyles, we reject sin, and we embrace our place in God's kingdom.