Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration. — John 4:24 MSG
We suffer from poor I-sight. Not eyesight, a matter of distorted vision that lenses can correct, but I-sight. Poor I-sight blurs your view, not of the world, but of yourself.
Some see self too highly. Maybe it’s the PhD or pedigree. A tattoo can do it; so can a new truck or the Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever the cause, the result is the same. “I have so many gifts. I can do anything.”
Brazenly self-assured and utterly self-sufficient, the I-focused have long strutted beyond the city limits of self-confidence and entered the state of cockiness. You wonder who puts the “air” in arrogance and the “vain” in vainglory? Those who say, “I can do anything.”
You’ve said those words. For a short time, at least. A lifetime, perhaps. We all plead guilty to some level of superiority.
And don’t we also know the other extreme: “I can’t do anything”? Forget the thin air of pomposity; these folks breathe the thick, swampy air of self-defeat. Roaches have higher self-esteem. Earthworms stand taller. “I’m a bum. I am scum. The world would be better off without me.”
Divorce stirs such crud. So do diseases and job dismissals. Where the first group is arrogant, this group is diffident. Blame them for every mishap; they won’t object. They’ll just agree and say, “I can’t do anything.”
Two extremes of poor I-sight. Self-loving and self-loathing. We swing from one side to the other. Promotions and demotions bump us back and forth. One day too high on self, the next too hard on self. Neither is correct. Self-elevation and self-deprecation are equally inaccurate. Where is the truth?
Smack-dab in the middle. Dead center between “I can do anything” and “I can’t do anything” lies
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. — Philippians 4:13
Neither omnipotent nor impotent, neither God’s MVP nor God’s mistake. Not self-secure or insecure, but God-secure — a self-worth based in our identity as children of God. The proper view of self is in the middle.
But how do we get there? How do we park the pendulum in the center? Counseling? Therapy? Self-help? Long walks? Taking Lucado out to dinner? Advisable activities, but they don’t compare with God’s cure for poor I-sight:
Surprised? The word conjures up many thoughts, not all of which are positive. Outdated songs. Cliché-cluttered prayers. Irrelevant sermons. Meager offerings. Odd rituals. Why worship? What does worship have to do with curing the common life?
Honest worship lifts eyes off self and sets them on God. Scripture’s best-known worship leader wrote:
Give honor to the LORD, you angels; give honor to the LORD for His glory and strength. Give honor to the LORD for the glory of His name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness. — Psalm 29:1-2 NLT
Worship gives God honor, offers Him standing ovations.
Worship can happen every day in every deed. We can make a big deal about God on Sundays with our songs and on Mondays with our strengths. Each time we do our best to thank God for giving His, we worship.
Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life — and place it before God as an offering. — Romans 12:1 MSG
Worship places God on center stage and us in proper posture.
Let me show you how this works.
King David and his men have just raised enough money to build the temple. This is the most successful fund drive ever. Philanthropy magazine would happily dedicate an issue to these fundraisers. They are sitting ducks for cockiness. But before their heads can swell, their knees bow. David leads them in a prayer of worship. Read it slowly:
Praise be to You, O LORD,
God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness
and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in Heaven and earth is Yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the Kingdom;
You are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from You;
You are the ruler of all things.
In Your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give You thanks,
and praise Your glorious name.
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand. — 1 Chronicles 29:10-14 NIV
Imagine a bigheaded guy offering this prayer. He begins arrogantly — his chest puffy and thumbs in lapels — but as the worship continues, reality sets in. As he recites phrases like “Yours… is the greatness,” “Wealth and honor come from You,” “Everything comes from You,” he dismounts his high horse.
Worship humbles the smug.
By the same token, worship lifts the deflated. Read Psalm 27:10-11, Psalm 27:13-14 to see if the weak wouldn’t be strengthened by these words:
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors….
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. (NIV)
Can’t you see a head lifting? A back straightening? “The LORD will receive me…. I will see the goodness of the LORD.” Can you see how these words would turn a face toward the Father and away from frailty?
Worship does that. Worship adjusts us, lowering the chin of the haughty, straightening the back of the burdened.
Breaking the bread, partaking of the cup.
Bowing the knees, lifting the hands.
This is worship.
In the solitude of a corporate cubicle or the community of a church.
Opening our mouths, singing to Him our praise.
Opening our hearts, offering to Him our uniqueness.
Worship properly positions the worshiper. And oh how we need it!
We walk through life so bent out of shape. Five-talent folks swaggering: “I bet God’s glad to have me.” Two-talent folks struggling: “I bet God’s sick of putting up with me.” So sold on ourselves that we think someone died and made us ruler. Or so down on ourselves that we think everyone died and just left us.
Treat both conditions with worship. Cure any flareup of commonness by setting your eyes on our uncommon King.
During our summer vacation I took my daughters on a snorkeling trip. I took advantage of the occasion to solicit a sailing lesson. Ever puzzled by the difference in leeward, starboard, and stern, I asked the crew a few questions. After a while the captain offered, “Would you like to sail us home?” I reminded him that no West Texan has ever won the America’s Cup. He assured me I would have no trouble and pointed to a rocky outcrop on the shore. “Target that cliff,” he instructed. “Set your eyes and the boat on it.”
I found the instruction hard to follow. Other sights invited my attention: the rich mahogany of the deck, my giggling daughters beneath the sail, rich foam cresting on the waves. I wanted to look at it all. But look too long and risk losing the course. The boat stayed on target as long as I set my eyes beyond the vessel.
Worship helps us do this in life. It lifts our eyes off the boat with its toys and passengers and sets them “on the realities of Heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power” (Colossians 3:1 NLT).
We worship God because we need to.
But our need runs a turtle-paced distant second to the thoroughbred reason for worship.
The chief reason for applauding God? He deserves it.
If singing did nothing but weary your voice, if giving only emptied your wallet — if worship did nothing for you — it would still be right to do. God warrants our worship.
How else do you respond to a Being of blazing, blistering, unadulterated, unending holiness? No mark. Nor freckle. Not a bad thought, bad day, or bad decision. Ever! What do you do with such holiness if not adore it? And His power. He churns forces that launch meteors, orbit planets, and ignite stars. Commanding whales to spout salty air, petunias to perfume the night, and songbirds to chirp joy into spring. Above the earth, flotillas of clouds endlessly shape and reshape; within the earth, strata of groaning rocks shift and turn. Who are we to sojourn on a trembling, wonderful orb so shot through with wonder?
And tenderness? God has never taken His eyes off you. Not for a millisecond. He’s always near. He lives to hear your heartbeat. He loves to hear your prayers. He’d die for your sin before He’d let you die in your sin, so He did.
What do you do with such a Savior? Don’t you sing to Him? Don’t you celebrate Him in baptism, elevate Him in Communion? Don’t you bow a knee, lower a head, hammer a nail, feed the poor, and lift up your gift in worship? Of course you do.
Worship God. Applaud Him loud and often. For your sake, you need it. And for Heaven’s sake, He deserves it.
Excerpted with permission from Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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Worship places God on center stage and us in proper posture. How does worship place God on center stage? How does worship place us in proper posture? What is this proper posture? Come share your thoughts!