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Monday, November 15, 2010

Worshiping by Faith

There is an old saying that you should “never treasure what you can hold in your hand more than that which you can hold in your heart.” Perhaps it might be better to clarify the statement to say you should “never treasure what you can hold in your hand more than the relationship you have with God your heart.”  Regardless, the thought does bring up some interesting ideas. We, as humans  have a tendency to hold on to that which we can see, hear, and touch, more than that which we must believe by faith.  Perhaps that is part of the attraction of the worship of idols: they are a physical object that one can see and perhaps even touch and so confirms their own existence and then certain actions or powers are assigned to them.

Contrast that with the life of faith that God requires. Our relationship with God is based on what Christ has done for us, a redemption and payment for sin that we could never accomplish on our own. Somehow in the grace of a loving God we are allowed to have a personal relationship with a God whom we cannot see, but through belief and faith in what has been done we respond in an action that shows our belief. Much like a chair we have never seen before, we proceed to sit, never even thinking if it might not support the weight of our body.  We could have said beforehand, “I believe this chair will support my weight,” but if we never sat down, one could call in question whether or not we really believed. However, the moment we rest our bodies in the chair, we show that belief was there. In the same way, we are not saved by “sitting in the chair,” we are saved by trusting in Christ’s finished work. We “sit” by responding in obedience to what He commands. We can read about the cross and Christ’s sufferings, we can see the change that a relationship has made in the lives of many, but it is not anything that we can hold in our hands. I must come to God in faith, not of my own merit, but solely on the merit of the Son of God. It is a work of God, of grace, a divine miracle or restoration. It is a belief that we must act upon to demonstrate our faith.

Now the question: Is worship by faith as well? We are saved by faith, walk daily with Christ in obedience by faith, and by faith we will spend eternity with Him in heaven, but do we worship by faith, now? What does it mean to worship by faith?  Is it some nebulous feeling we trust in or must obtain to really know that we are worshiping God? Must we reach some emotional level to certify that we have indeed been worshiping the Creator of the universe? Perhaps the simplest way to describe what must happen in worship is to remember the illustration of the Fact-Faith-Feeling. Scripture teaches that worship is that obedient response to God’s nature and character. God is holy, perfect, faultless, all powerful, all knowing, all present; these are facts. We accept these facts by faith. How I feel about them does not change their veracity. I can be happy, sad, mad, or even indifferent to a light bulb and it really makes no difference at all, the light will still shine un affected, because that is the nature of the light. God is love and His nature and character does not change with the emotional roller coaster of His creations. God is love. I choose to believe that fact by faith and it may or may not elicit an emotional response. The proof of my believe is not dependent on whether or not I “felt” anything, but on the fact that God is love. 

In a similar fashion, worshiping by faith is not dependent on my emotions, but rather on the fact that God and only God is worthy to receive it. I offer my adoration by faith, not dependent on some emotional signal of confirmation, but based in the fact of who God is and what He has done and continues to do. Feelings may come; many times they do, but I cannot abandon the facts for the hope of some feelings. I must worship by faith. I must trust in the unchanging nature of the God that loved the world enough to provide a way of redemption so that everyone might have the opportunity of recognizing God as He is and responding to Him appropriately. As I worship by faith I declare my trust in God’s character and nature and His worthiness. I must not look to feelings for what only God alone can give. I must worship by faith. I cannot depend on the externals of the music, friends, or feelings to confirm or deny what is worship, but solely in the obedient response to the revealed nature and character of God. I must worship by faith. It is not some mystic jump in the dark, but confidence in the one who created the light. I must worship by faith.

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