March 30, 2012

What Does Worship Look Like?

Throw away the pictures in your head of people standing in orderly rows singing in a church.  Forget about pianos, guitars and even voices.  Right now, banish the mental concepts you've carefully memorized and filed under the category of "worshipping God."

Because I don't want to remind you of what "worship" has come to look like for you, dear modern day Christ-follower, but what it looks like to God.

Picture yourself sitting outside on a comfortable and slightly chilly spring night.  You have a mug of tea and it's kinda burning your hand a bit, but you're just staring out into nothing, making sense of the memories of the day.  Suddenly, based on some new information being radioed in from your sense of smell, all your thoughts abruptly begin to dematerialize and dissolve.  The scent of night blooming jasmine quietly glides into your unsuspecting skull, blazing tranquil and disrupting spiral lines throughout your well groomed brain.  For one divine split second you are able to think about only one thing: flowers.  It is a coup d'etat of tangy calm and pleasure.  Your never ending stream of thought has been successfully subverted.  Sensing you are starting to have a bit too much fun, the brain scrambles to organize a counter revolt and tries to bring you back to stress and worry and demands, but you only use this as an opportunity to figure out what you're smelling.

The scent registers as jasmine and in a thrilling panic you begin to take in gulping breath after breath,  frantically, greedily holding onto the reverie as long as you can. But your tea cools and your body chills and it's time to go back inside.  You enter the house refreshed and moved.

That feeling that the jasmine in my story has brought you as you smell it... the assault of clean beauty... the invasion of speechless, blanketing peace.  THIS, loved Christian, is how God feels your worship.  THIS is what your love does to Him.  It tosses Him down.  Seizes His heart.  Soothing, delighting, tranquilizing, if you will.  Our simple love brings Him pleasure, brings Him calm, brings Him brain shattering delight.

Somehow, God has a sense of smell (I've never seen Him, so let's both use our imagination on this one) and somehow all that we give Him turns to fragrance.  Noah knew it in Genesis 8 when God "smelled a soothing aroma" from his post-flood sacrifice.  The Hebrews knew it for thousands of years- half the point of a burnt offering was in the idea that God could could sense it by our equivalent of "smell" and that He wanted to sense it.  John knew it in his vision as God silences all of heaven just to receive bowls of prayers-turned-incense from His loved, blood bought ones.

Can you believe that we can affect God like that?  Why does He let us do that to Him?  His love- His hopelessly tender heart for us- has cost Him dearly, namely a Son.  He breaks every boundary of mercy and grace in the universe just to make Himself excessivly approachable to us, all for our love to be able to rise unhindered to Him.  How could such a small wisp of affection from us small, imperfect beings be anything worth "sensing" to Him?  And yet, in His wonderfully illogical addiction to us, our feeble love has become His pleasure, His desire.

So now that you've erased all you know from your "This is Worship" file in your head, add back in the guitars and voices.  Add in music and prayers and deeds.  But make sure you burn them.  Set them on fire, releasing their aroma high.  You do not stand in ordered rows and nice clothes singing songs before God.  When you worship Him you stand, in reality, like a bowl of billowing incense, breathed in and savored, pleasing and soothing and very costly indeed before a God who just loves you.

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