God, the Audience

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. ~Psalm 92:1-3

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was explaining why she quit worshiping at a particular church. “I just didn’t get anything out of it,” she said. I’ve heard that before and have maybe even said it once or twice in my life.

The psalmist in Psalm 92 reminds us that it is “good” to worship. This Psalm is titled, “For the Sabbath,” which seems appropriate considering it talks about giving thanks; singing praises; declaring God’s love and faithfulness; and making music. All things we do in worship.

Yet, sometimes I think we get it backward. We tend to think of worship as a theatrical play. The worshipers are the audience. The clergy is the emcee. The musicians are the entertainment, and God is the prompter in the wings. It should be the other way around. The worshipers are the performers; the clergy and musicians are the prompters; and God is the only audience.

If we don’t get anything out of worship, perhaps it is because we’ve come expecting to be entertained? Can we move from someone who observes to someone who bursts forth with passion and praise?

Perhaps one reason we may find worship lacking is because our God is too small. If we truly understood and believed in the characteristics and attributes of God, we couldn’t help but burst forth with passion and praise. David Wells says this of our too-small God: “His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common.”

Being Human connection: We do not have a distant, ordinary, easy or common God. Quite the contrary. Come to worship, focus on God’s characteristics and attributes, and be prepared to become a participant, not an audience member. Praise the Lord!

About the artwork: “A Pair of Shoes,” 1886. As you may remember, I love Van Gogh. This is a painting of his I had never seen before. Theo, Vincent’s brother, remembered Vincent buying these boots at a Paris flea market, hoping to use them for a still life. But they were in good shape and didn’t look discouraged enough so Vincent tramped around in them until they were worn enough to say what he wanted them to say.