The Worship Quote of the Week for (11/13/2007):

The Worthiness of God
Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is another excerpt from a new book about the "real worship war." Author Mark Labberton suggests that the real battle is over our concept of God and the radical values of his kingdom.

The core of a biblical theology of worship is the worthiness of God. Christian worship is only possible as our response to the glory, power and love of God as revealed most clearly in and through Jesus Christ. The gift of God's revelation enables humanity to worship.

We can trust by faith, in clarity and in mystery, that the Word who was "in the beginning" has now been "made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14 KJV). Allowing the remembrance of God's revelation to shape daily life was a challenge for God's people throughout the Bible. At one point, the prophet Isaiah wants to help Israel recalibrate life in light of the God they worship and serve. Their tendency, like yours and mine, was for their vision of God to shrink. That's why Isaiah longs for Israel to recall once more the vision of God as he really is:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. . . .

The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 40:21-23, 28)

Worship is about this God and for this God. But our human tendency is for our vision of God to be small and petty rather than stretch to the heights and magnificence that he deserves. . . .


Worship is to be the one activity that sums up the scope of our lives. . . . The hope we are offered and are meant to offer others is that the gospel of Jesus Christ fundamentally alters the context in which we live. As we allow worship to do its transformative work in our lives, we can stay where we are and yet move into the places where the heart of God dwells. . . .

We urgently need to recover a comprehensive vision of worship that recontextualizes our entire life and leads us to live out the worship God intends and desires. We need this for God's glory, for our transformation and for the mission of God in the world.

Worship means dwelling where God's heart is and showing it in lives that embody his loving righteousness and merciful justice. This is the worship war for which Christ died and rose.

óMark Labberton, THE DANGEROUS ACT OF WORSHIP: LIVING GOD'S CALL TO JUSTICE. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007, pp. 25-26, 39-40. ISBN-13 978-0-8308-3316-0.

[I have found this book helpful in connecting worship to life, particularly life that reflects Christ's radical kingdom values of forgiveness, mercy, and justice in our posture towards our enemies, as well as the weak, lonely, and estranged. There is no shortage of biblical instruction about these things. We can start with Isaiah 1: 10-18, Amos 5:4-15, Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 10:26-28, Galatians 5:13-14, and James 1:27.]

Have a great week!

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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