Worship & Praise is a beautiful CO-participation of Grace
I teach study groups on zoom and I LOVE the questions that I get from my students! They challenge me, cause me to grow, to dig deeper in the truths of Christ's FINISHED work in our lives, and sometimes create in me new books!
In my class IT IS FINISHED last spring, I got so many questions about healing and how to manifest it in our lives that I wrote my 3rd book I AM HEALED. For those of you who haven't read it, it's not "how to's" on getting healed but rather the FINISHED work of healing IN us... and our identity as HEALED and WHOLE! And last fall we started our first I AM HEALED zoom study group.
And one of the questions was, what about praise and worship? How does it fit into our lives now that we realize we were never separated from God but are ONE with Him IN Christ... face to face in beautiful intimate union?
So many in grace circles are deconstructing from the abuses they endured in religious circles. And praise and worship is one of those things they are letting go of... thinking that worship of God is no longer necessary, no longer valid or beneficial, because God is not an egotistic God requiring or demanding it from us. And while I agree that God didn't require or demand our worship, I also believe that it is something that is beautiful and necessary in our lives. Not necessary in the sense that we will only receive from God if we worship or praise Him. NO! But necessary because we are DESIGNED and CREATED for worship and praise... to be BOTH praised and worshipped by God and to worship and praise Him... a beautiful entanglement of adoration... a glorious life of CO!!!
Jesus said in John 4:23: But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
What we need to remember when we read this verse is that Jesus is NOT talking to us. That doesn't mean that God doesn't desire true worshippers who worship Him in spirit and truth... He does! But this verse is NOT saying that God requires our worship or demands our worship.
The word seeks is zéteó in Greek and this is where the Strong's Concordance does not help us but rather reinforces that image of a egotistical demanding God! It uses words like demands and requires as the meaning of zéteó .
The Hebrew word for seek is masa meaning to find and to discover; and the root means to come forth. The first time masa is used (which in the Greek Septuagint it is that word zéteó) is in Genesis 19:11: And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. They were blind and couldn’t see the door. These men weren’t demanding the door! They were simply searching for something they weren’t able to see. Same with the Father. He isn’t an egotistical God demanding and requiring our worship. He was searching for something that He wasn’t seeing in the earth — TRUE WORSHIPPERS who worshipped Him in spirit and in truth.
In the Old Testament worship was linked to offering a sacrifice — it was rooted in a sense of lack and separation from God because of sin. Hebrews 10:1-2 says, For the law is only a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. It can never, by the same sacrifices offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (2) If it could, would not the offerings have ceased? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt the guilt of their sins (or sin consciousness).
In Genesis 22 we see the first time the word worship is used from man to God. Abraham is going to sacrifice his son to God - which he thought was REQUIRED or DEMANDED in order to prove his love for God.
That was not the worship man was created to give to God… a sin conscious, guilt ridden, sense of lack and separation, servant and not son conscious worship to Abba.
How could we have thought that God was demanding and requiring it to feed His ego or for us to prove our love to Him? 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that Love (and John said God is Love!) is not SELF SEEKING!!! The Mirror says: Love has no desire to make others feel inferior and has no need to sing its own praises. The word seeking in this verse, is the same word in John 4:23 zéteó which again the Strong's says means seeks, demands, requires. BUT Paul told us in 1 Corinthians that Love does not demand or require itself to be praised or worshipped in an egotistical manner.
Abba was searching for something He wasn’t finding in the earth — a righteousness based son conscious worship of adoration and praise of the Father who also understood that the Father praises and adores His sons as well.
It’s a mutual flow of love.
Hebrews 10:2 For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. The word worshipper is latreuó. That word is also used in Luke 4:8. It says, you shall worship (proskuneo) the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve (latreuó) . The Mirror Bible says with undivided attention rather than shall you serve.
The word latreuó is a word of very intense love
Lovers worship or adore one another… it is mutual, a CO-participation of worship, adoration, praise, and celebration of each other.
Make no mistake you are not the only one praising and worshipping…. God is praising and worshipping you as well. One of the Hebrew words for worship is barak. It is found in Genesis 1:28 and is the first mention of worship. Our English bibles translate it as bless, but the word barak means to kneel in adoration. God kneeled in adoration over His beautiful creation... adoring and worshiping - barak!
In addition to adoring and worshiping us, God even praises and rejoices over us!!
I know these things sound crazy heretical!! But the beauty of the New Covenant... of this new creation is CO... a union of co-participation, co-entanglement, co-grace, etc.!
This is one of my favorite verses, Zephaniah 3:17 says, God rejoices over you with gladness, he renews you in his love; he exults over you with loud singing and spins around in joyful dancing! The last part says in our English Bibles that He will joy over thee with singing. But that doesn't quite capture the meaning. It would read better as -- He passionately spins and dances, shouting and singing over you with joy because He is overcome with you! Can you see it??? That sounds like David when he danced wildly before the Lord celebrating Him.
Again it’s a CO…. a mutual intense love of praise and adoration or worship flowing from one lover to another
Is that not what the book of Song of Solomon is all about?? He is adoring His beloved and speaking words of praise, adoration or worship… words of intense fervent LOVE! His praise and adoration of us as a Lover to His love is almost embarrassing! It’s passionate!! It’s overflowing and generous. It has no reservations, no holding back. And while it's tempting to read those verses in Song of Solomon allegorically and find spiritual meanings in them... just for a moment bask in the literal words of praise He is speaking over you. Make it personal... hear it personally. This is not an egotistical God demanding and requiring praise. Praise and worship is mutual love flowing back and forth between a Lover and HIs love. It’s healthy! It’s LOVE mutually expressed.... co-praise and co-worship! Oh! The magnitude of that thought!! That God, the Creator of the universe would praise and worship us!! Just the idea of it causes me to become undone!!
And our worship doesn't have to be the "right" words, you know what I mean? He meets us where we're at. We may still be bound in wrong thinking, wrong speaking, have some wrong theology... and yet our worship PLEASES HIM!! And our praise may sound dualistic (as in a God up there) or it may even be caught up in a wrong sense of identity
AND YET..... chapter 4, verse 11, of Song of Solomon the Bridegroom says, "Your loving words are like the honeycomb to me; your tongue releases milk and honey, for I find the promised land flowing within you. The fragrance of your worshiping love surrounds you with scented robes of white."
And verse 10 He says,"by merely a glance from your worshiping eyes, for you have stolen my heart. I am held hostage by your love."
AND in chapter 1, verse 5, He overhears the Shulamite, His beloved, telling the other maidens that she is so unworthy. He praises her, "Yet you are so lovely!" She turns to Him and says, "I feel dark and dry." He adoringly says of her (again!), "Yet you are so lovely! Like the fine linen tapestry hanging in the Holy Place."
Abba's not looking for our right words, or right theology... He is simply ENTHRALLED with us!! He adores us!!
And so, while He absolutely doesn't DEMAND or REQUIRE our worship grace frees us so that it is absolutely our choice to worship or not. And truthfully, if anyone ever deserved our praise, worship, and adoration it would be Jesus!!
AND YET.... Love Himself prefers the beauty of co-praise... co-worship... of mutual flowing love from Lover to beloved! Selah!!!