I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of authentic worship. It is a mark of courage when one embraces the worship of God as He truly is. Such worship will inevitably bring us toward an encounter with our own true selves. It is an adventure not for the faint-hearted.
Worship can act as window to our souls. Entering God’s presence, there can be no hiding from our true nature. It is very difficult to come to such a place in worship and remain guarded, defensive or cynical. Worship exposes everything about us.
Thankfully, God delights in showing us mercy in our vulnerability. While he is most assuredly a God of justice, He loves mercy. God loves us just the way we are, no matter what we may think of ourselves, or what anyone else thinks of us.
And yet, God’s presence has a way of revealing the truth about ourselves. It is no accident that people meeting God for the first time are often overcome with conviction of their sin. In my experience, if I have sin in my heart, it’s usually the first thing to be addressed when I come before God.
God allows us to feel convicted and guilty about our sin. It is a great motivator for repentance and change. God also allows us to feel vulnerable in His presence; it reminds us of our humanity and our great need for Him.
But worship is not just about showing us our true nature. It also reveals to us the true nature of God. In worship we may take a glimpse of our Heavenly Father, the way He really is. We come to understand His mercy toward us, His magnificence, His power and His holiness. It is during worship that we may come to understand His heart-wrenching, Son-sacrificing, nothing-held-back love.
I find that worship shows me who God is as opposed to who I have imagined Him to be. Sometimes we get ideas from others about God’s nature: we are told that God is an old senile man, a tyrant ruler, a distant indifferent bystander, or an energy being likened to “The Force”. There may be other descriptions of God that you have encountered.
But in worship, God has the opportunity to transcend these misguided notions of Himself by showing His mighty and merciful nature to us. These moments go beyond intellectual understanding; they are moments that cut us to the heart, raising us up and breaking us down. They are realisations felt with our whole body, not just understood within the limits of reason. These are moments to treasure.
I am mindful that it is not just during worship times that God can reveal Himself to us. We all experience God in different ways and He can enter into our daily grind at any moment, use any person or anything to speak to us afresh. Worship is simply one potentially focused time when God may show Himself to us.
Many things can bring us to this point in worship. I find music is often the pathway to meeting God for me. Singing has a way of transporting my soul to the delights of His presence. For others, it may be in reading the Word, helping a stranger or sitting in a street café that they encounter God face-to-face.
Whatever the vehicle, worship helps us to move to a place of seeing God and ourselves in a true light. Worship gives us a window into God’s own heart, where we may know and love Him even more.
I like to think that worship also gives God a window through which He can pour His love for us into every corner of our lives. Worship gives God an opportunity to remind us of His relentless love. After all, He loves mercy and He loves us extravagantly.
May God, in times of worship as well as the ordinariness of everyday life, pour His love into the windows of our souls, so that we may know and breathe the height, the depth, the expansiveness of His great love.