Worship as Protest

worship_hands raised“Them’s fighting words!”

Have you ever thought of the words we sing and pray and preach as “fighting words?” Well you and I should! Worship is always involves saying YES to one god and NO to another. And TRUE worship is always about saying YES to the infinitely glorious Triune God and NO to every false god that our hearts and culture are busy making and promoting.

Think through this quote and prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the idolatries that are seducing your loyalties away from worshiping God through Christ.

Worship breaks down our misdirected loyalties even as it builds up our deepest loyalty to God. Every act of praise is a strong act of negation as well as affirmation. Every time we sing praise to the triune God, we are asserting our opposition to anything that would attempt to stand in God’s place. Every hymn of praise is a little anti-idolatry campaign, as Walter Brueggemann explains: “The affirmation of Yahweh always contains a polemic against someone else. . . It may be that the [exiles] will sing such innocuous-sounding phrases as ‘Glory to God in the highest,’ or ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow.’ Even those familiar phrases are polemical, however, and stake out new territory for the God now about to be aroused to new caring.” When we sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” we are also saying “Down with the gods from whom no blessings flow.”

–John Witvliet Our Inestimable Privilege: Full, Conscious, Participation in Worship

One way to trace where our hearts are worshiping is to follow where our “if only’s” take us.

  • If only I had a better job?
  • If only I were beautiful/handsome?
  • If only I were out of the house?
  • If only I were married to a better spouse?
  • If only I weren’t so sick?
  • If only I….

Do see where your heart and our culture tempt us to find blessing and security and meaning apart from God through Christ? What false gods do you need to protest against and say “Down with you! You offer nothing but slavery and death and fleeting pleasure!” Worship is war. Worship is work. May we learn to praise God not just on Sunday but everyday.


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