One of the joys in my marriage was affirming and cherishing my wife. I frequently reminded her of her worth, using words, bringing her small gifts, showing her genuine affection. I was intentional, even after decades of marriage, about speaking words of appreciation and love to her. “But, Jerry, she obviously knew that you loved her.” She did, but I knew that her heart was renewed by attentiveness.
Far too many marriages are allowed to slip into routine, two people in a functional relationship that makes life work but lacking the richness that comes from intimacy borne of expressions of love. While Bev was alive, it was my goal to make sure that we remained as ‘in love’ after 40 years as we were in our first year together!
Think about it – Who doesn’t enjoy being affirmed, receiving words of appreciation? It would seem to me that too often we are slow to praise but quick to criticize, that we assume things about our relationship that need to be spoken and reaffirmed time and again.
Now where am I going with this today? Here’s the question that forms my thoughts – have I allowed my relationship with God to become functional, a kind of trade-off “I serve You, you bless me” that lacks adoring worshipful love for Him?
Perhaps language about ‘loving Jesus’ is foreign to you or strikes you as being too mystical. Consider the consistent message of the Scripture.
Moses told the new nation of Israel that they were to “love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, laws, and regulations by walking in his ways.” (Deuteronomy 30:16, NLT)
The Psalms speak of worshipful adoration of the Lord God again and again. Jesus tells us that the two basic expectations that God has for us are about love – for Him, for others.
Christians are described as family – “children of God.” Paul teaches us that we “should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.” For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16, NLT)
We can learn to love God, not abstractly, not just in religious form, but from our hearts. Our prayers should include adoring words, praise, and expressions of love for Him. Can even those words become rote, empty of meaning? Yes, they can but when we train ourselves to be “God aware” we also discover new love for Him. That is one reason we are taught to live in a constant attitude of prayer. That does not mean we spend our days in a church saying prayers. It means our hearts are never without an awareness of the Spirit.
We need to intentionally love God in our corporate worship, too. It is quite possible (shockingly? I think not) to go to church and think more about the volume of the music, the temperature of the room, or the manner of the preacher than God Himself. If we sit in the sanctuary but focus on such things while playing on our smartphone, we have missed the heart of worship entirely!
Kierkegaard, a 19th century theologian, turned worship, as it was then conceived, upside down. Worship, he taught, was not about the performance of the choir or the acts of the liturgy. True worship is focused entirely on God.
Our songs, sermons, and prayers are offered up to Him;
the ‘Audience of One.’
The question that becomes important is this one: am I pleasing to God?
Let’s be intentional about loving God! Let’s not allow ourselves to think of ‘worship’ as an event or something we only do in our church buildings. David’s Psalm captures the true heart of worship: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, NLT) Find a way to tell the Lord how much He means to you right then and there, a 12 second worship encounter. That’s the heart of worship!
I know this: if we are worshippers who learn to worship Him everywhere, all the time; if we ‘connect’ with His Presence during our commute, in our living rooms, at the lunch room table – we will be better worshippers when we come together for corporate worship because we won’t be trying ‘catch up’ on our acquaintance, we will be coming together to celebrate a mutual Friend.
Here is the word from the Word.
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God.
Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.
That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for:
those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.
God is sheer being itself-Spirit.
Those who worship him must do it out of their very being,
their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” (The Message, John 4:23-24)
The Heart Of Worship
When the music fades all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You all about You Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You all about You Jesus
King of endless worth no one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor all I have is Yours
Ev’ry single breath
© 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055