Gospel Thought: Worship is recognizing and bowing before the value of God

Worship is not primarily ascribing ultimate value and lordship to God.  Worship is recognizing the ultimate value that God already possesses and bowing before the lordship that God already has.

During this spring season many of our people at Surfside PCA are going through the small group material “Not a Fan.”  This is a great study that puts emphasis on being a “follower” of Christ and not just a distant spectator.  This great study strikes at the very heart of what it means to worship God.  Worshipping God is not simply ascribing worth to Him and then walking away.  Worship “sees” the splendor of God’s value and is moved to joy.  Worship doesn’t say that “Christ is Lord” because it intellectually adds up or because everybody else says so.  Worship says Christ is Lord because it sees Christ’s scars and beholds Christ’s glory.  Worship does not simply know about the Cross, worship kisses the Cross of Jesus and finds comfort only in its shadow.

Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”  ‘Ascribe’ means “to credit, or assign, or give unto.“  In short, ‘ascribing’ is the act of naming something.  Often, when we ascribe an attribute or a name to something, it is in the hopes that the thing will “live up” to our ascription.   For example, when I was born my mother named me “Timothy” which means “to honor God.”  She named me this in the hope that I would someday live up to that name.  Appraisers also ascribe.  They ascribe value to a diamond, or to a property, or to a car.  They say, “This house is worth 180,000 dollars.”  They ascribe worth.  They make a judgment call.  Bank lenders acknowledge the value that the appraiser ascribes to the house and they will not lend any more than the appraised amount.  The appraiser sets the value.  He alone determines the worth.

But, this is not how we should ascribe value to God.  Our worship is not an act of saying something about God and then hoping that He lives up to our words.  Our worship of God should not depend upon what we determine God is worth.  That’s idolatry. Nonetheless, this is how we often approach worship.  We make a judgment call.  We sinfully decide whether or not God is pleasing to us. Do we like Him? Is He following our agenda?  Is He protecting our idols?  Is He keeping our perception of His promises?  Is He making us happy in the moment?  If not, then we ascribe a very low value to God.  He is not worth much in our eyes.  As idolatrous appraisers, we say “This God is not worth anything.” Then, in our hearts, we spurn Him as our sovereign Lord, we cast Him aside, and we run after other lovers.”  With this approach, we only worship God if we find Him pleasing to our flesh.  Yet, if this is how we worship, then we are not worshiping at all.  We are appraising.

Biblical worship is different.  True worship does not ascribe value to God because we find Him pleasing.  True worship ascribes glory to God because He is glorious.  Worship ascribes worth to God because God is infinitely worthy – all the time, no matter what we think, no matter what happens.  Worship is recognizing the lordship of Christ and bowing before Him, even when we don’t like what He does, even when we don’t understand His decisions.  Worship is saying, “You are my Husband, You are my King, and I love you even though I’m confused and hurting and undone.”  Worship is “recognizing” God for who He is and worship is faithfully surrendering to God’s will.  Worship says to God, “If I do not see You as worthy, it is because my idols have blinded my eyes.  Help me to see You in the splendor of Your holiness.  You are glorious.  Help me to see Your glory.”

So at the end of it all, worshippers of Jesus are not distant fans, they are gospel filled followers.  Worshippers do not ascribe worth to God in the hopes that He will live up to their proclamation.  Worshippers ascribe worth to God in the gospel hope that they will continually be lifted up to see His beauty.

  • “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)
  • “We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! ” (1 John 1:3 MSG)

3 thoughts on “Gospel Thought: Worship is recognizing and bowing before the value of God

  1. How true and how convicting….. Yesterday on my way to work I was singing along with the radio in the most country voice could muster, when all at once I realized I was telling Jesus that I love Him…. I started saying I love you more that I love the fall and all its beautiful colors, I love you more that I love the mountains, more that I love the ocean, more than I love the dog you gave me, more that I love my home, I tried to find something to say that would express my love to Him but everything I love He Himself is connected to… everything I said was so piddling next to who He really is and what he has done for me that I could never do for myself. So I just shut my mouth and enjoyed his presence,

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  2. So, worship is recognizing a quality God already has and bowing as a result. Theologically, I think I’ve been guilty of ascribing qualities to God so many times, qualities that I think would make God more attractive. I think people of all theological persuasions have been guilty of this at one time or another. I remember listening to a Sunday School teacher tell the audience that a good question to ask yourself when you’re trying to find out what God is really like is to ask, “How big is your God?” For example, a God who elected His people in a way compatible with libertarian freedom has limited His power to a certain degree so that the election process is a little more cooperative. Now whether or not that’s correct – and I’m simplifying – we can’t discount that particular theology just because it isn’t in accord with a God that had more power. On the flip side, I can’t discount a God who determined the election process in such a way that the creature’s libertarian freedom is bypassed (along the lines of the analogy of a dead person being brought back to life) just because that isn’t aesthetically pleasing to me. My personal aesthetic pleasure and the question ‘How big is your God?’ are qualities that are being ascribed to God, little pet criteria that we patch onto God to make God look better to us. Of course, all are agreed that the main goal here is to find out the qualities are that are already there and worship accordingly. But lots of times we succumb to what you noted above: being appraisers. This is a very helpful distinction and I thank you for it. Other questions you might want to get into are the different forms worship can take. For example, the worship of lifestyle, modes of worship that exclude certain musical instruments, or even music at all. I’d also want to delve into the Hebrew words for ‘worship’ and see what the context is there.

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  3. I think I understand what point you are trying to make. I have been helped with these thoughts by the following:

    God does not POSSESS anything nor does he HAVE anything. If he possessed it, it would be possible to lose it or have less of it or more of it. Same with “having” anything. HAVING suggests he could lose it or have more or less.

    Thus: God IS love…he does not possess it. God can never be anything but love because He IS love. God IS omnipotence…He does not Have it. His attributes are not quantitative. Therefore, God can never act out of character. And that leads me to always view Him and worship Him for who He IS, not what he has.

    Therefore, if people had that high view of God, they might not be tempted to see God as any more or less.

    Just a thought…

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