Have you Seen the Unseen in Worship?
From the perspective of a Christian worldview, reality is more than the world we see around us, or what we experience with our senses. It’s more than what we hear, taste or smell. Reality, in the fullest biblical sense, includes both the world of our senses, as well as what is beyond our senses.
Scripture refers to this view of reality in various ways. The use of sight is indicated when Paul states that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). In Ephesians, the idea is wrapped around knowledge, “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19), as well as our thinking, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:19).
Notice the words and phrases that juxtapose contradictory ideas – at least contradictory to our senses. It’s clear, that on the level of our senses, it’s impossible for something which is invisible to be seen. We cannot know something that is unknowable. We cannot think of something that is beyond our capacity to imagine. These ideas should not make sense to us, yet they are clearly ideas that Scripture teaches.
How might this be reflected in our corporate worship? Unfortunately, contemporary corporate worship is often centered on a sensual experience. It focuses primarily on sight and sound, with an underlying layer of how these sights and sounds make a person feel about God. There is often little time for reflection or full, deep thought even about the topics suggested in the songs or sermons.
If the unseen world is real to the Christian, then the unseen world should also be a part of our corporate worship. This is admittedly difficult in a culture consumed by sensual input, with little tolerance for the discipline of a deeper life. But in small ways, we can give church goers some glimpse of what it might be like to know the unknowable.
One example is the great passage in Isaiah of his vision of the throne (Is. 6), or the vision of God’s throne in Revelation 5. Either of these passages can be used to prompt a further understanding of God’s greatness and power, even as songs are sung and sermons are preached on the topic. The Pastor or Worship leader can take just a few minutes to lead the congregation to “experience” these unseen realities by using their imagination. Requesting that people close their eyes, one of these passages can be read while people “see” the images in their imaginations. Short pauses and silence during this can enhance its effectiveness (and I would suggest that any background music would actually lessen the effect and be avoided!).
This is just one idea, of many, to introduce the unseen reality of God into our worship. Given the overload of sense data in our world today, one cannot help but think that people need a break from it all. And what better place to do that, than in the presence of God.
Posted on October 27, 2015, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged Mark Sooy, theology, worship, worship leader, WorshipThink. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.