Worship is Not About Us -- By: Paul R. House
SBJT 2:4 (Winter 1998) p. 2
Worship is Not About Us
Paul R. House is Rogers Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of eight volumes and several scholarly articles. His most recent publication is Old Testament Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1998).
One phrase ought to serve as a sober reminder as we go through today’s so-called worship wars: worship is not about us, but about God. So much of the current debate revolves around what we want, what we need, what we prefer, what we desire for a service to do for us. We even argue over whether a worship service should focus on evangelism, discipleship, or praise. In all these discussions the emphasis is squarely on us. No wonder we are confused; no wonder we lack the power we so desperately need and, at our best, desire with all our hearts. But if worship is not about us, what is it about?
Worship is about recognizing God’s primacy in all things. In the Bible, the most basic meaning of “worship” is “to bow down.” To whom do worshipers bow? The creator, sustainer, deliverer, savior, revealer, healer, judge, and covenant maker. In other words, they bow down to the sovereign Lord of all creation. For what purpose do they bow? To give glory to God, who alone deserves such humility and adoration. In The End for Which God Created the World, Jonathan Edwards rightly stresses that worship is the ultimate end for which human beings were made. He writes,
And thus we see how, not only the creature’s seeing and knowing God’s excellence, but also supremely esteeming and loving him, belongs to the communication of God’s fulness. And the communication of God’s joy and happiness, consists chiefly in communicating to the creature that happiness and joy which consists in rejoicing in God, and in glorious excellency; for in such joy God’s own happiness does principally consist. And in these things, knowing God’s excellency, loving God for it, and rejoicing in it, and in the exercise and expression of these, consists God’s honor and praise; so that these are clearly implied in that glory of God, which consists in the emanation of his eternal glory.1
If God’s glory is not magnified in our services, then what occurs is not worship at all.
Worship is about God-centered confession. Scripture teaches that God created human beings “good,” but that we have all “sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:23; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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