Manufactured or Responsive Worship?

I was struck recently by the thought that worship in the modern and popular mode may be a manufactured worship, rather than a responsive worship.  In other articles, and in my book (The Life of Worship), I have discussed the mischaracterization and mishandling of John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  Often directed at some kind of feeling one must have to truly worship, the verse is actually about the spiritual reality of the believer and has little to do with feelings, atmosphere, or other elements of the worship experience.

In his treatise on the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Martin Luther swerves into this idea and places some perspective on the manufactured praise that was offered in his day as worship.  I will allow his words to speak for themselves, but I wonder how much of our modern worship is manufactured rather than responsive?  Are you sure that your corporate worship is a response to God’s person and work?

…to think to worship God with many words and a great noise, is to count Him either deaf or ignorant, and to suppose we must waken or instruct Him. Such an opinion of God tends to His shame and dishonor rather than to His worship. But when one ponders well His divine works in the depths of one’s heart, and regards them with wonder and gratitude, so that one breaks out from very ardor into sighs and groanings rather than into speech; when the words, not nicely chosen nor prescribed, flow forth in such wise that the spirit comes seething with them, and the words live and have hands and feet, yea, that the whole body and life with all its members strives and strains for utterance — that is indeed a worship of God in spirit and in truth, and such words are all fire, light and life. As David says, in Psalm 119:140, 171, “Lord, Thy word is exceeding refined;” and again, “My lips shall utter a hymn” even as boiling water overflows and seethes, unable to contain itself for the great heat within the pot.*



*Martin Luther, Works of Martin Luther, Vol. 3, “The Magnificat” (Philadelphia: A.J. Holman Company, 1930), 160.

Posted on January 12, 2016, in Arts, Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, Martin Luther, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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