One of the most amazing opportunities we have as believers is worship. I want every believer to know and experience the supernatural truth that our capacity to worship God has been awakened. Idea number two of the 12 big ideas of Joyland is:
Worship Honors God And Makes You Happy
Worship is a really big word and concept. It is so big and important that I have had a few people let me know they think this statement is too simple—that is seems to trivialize such a profound and holy thing as our worship of Almighty God. I understand their concern but…let me explain why I don’t believe that is what this declaration is doing.
Obviously (at least I hope it’s obvious if you get to know me) I do not want to trivialize worship. It is a high priority at Joyland and in the lives of Joylanders. I am, however, willing to run the risk of seeming to make it sound a little high and holy if it helps me, or anyone, think about our worship as more concrete, more personal, and more suited to be a part of our everyday experience.
So if you will indulge me, I want to walk through why I chose these particular words to be Big Idea # 2, and what they mean to me, and us, at Joyland.
The word worship itself is a good place to start. If you look at its etymology (the historic source of a word), worship finds its way into our English from a variety of sources of Old English as the word worðscip. You will find a few variant spellings depending on whether you are looking at the Saxon or Anglican version but they all mean essentially the same thing: Ascribing or attributing worth to a person or thing. If you break it down, worð = worth and scip = ship.
So in simple terms, our first word, worship, means giving or ascribing to God the honor He is actually worth. That is simple enough to understand, but I want to add one more thought to the mix before we get off the first word of the declaration.
Giving begins in the heart and the mind. How we think about something or someone is the beginnings of how we value it or them. From those thoughts flow actions. So by saying “Worship honors God and makes you happy,” we are making an assertion about how we see God and what we think about Him. Regardless of what else we are thinking, worship provokes us to think about His value, His importance, and in some ways, about who he is at His core.
Not all of us think about God’s value the same. Some think about His absolute or core value. Others, if and when they do think about God, tend to think about His perceived or relative value. Let me explain what I mean by core and relative value.
Gold has value in the economies of our world. Its value may be perceived differently—relatively—under different circumstances but in spite of how we perceived gold’s value it has a common and pretty stable core value just the same. These two values—relative and core—are not always the same. Here is an example of what I mean:
Say a man is lost and wandering across the Sahara Desert. He ran out of water days ago and is literally stumbling the last steps of his parched life across the trackless sand. Relative to his immediate circumstances, a couple bottled waters from Walmart would be more valuable than the pocket full of gold coins he has been carrying this whole time since he survived the crash-landing of his small plane and began this desperate journey. That is an example of relative value. The water is certainly perceived—and in some ways really is—more valuable than the gold. But, say that a few steps later the unfortunate dude drops to the sand and dies (I know, it’s not that cheery a story but let’s go on). Let’s say that his pocket contained 9 one-ounce gold coins. At today’s gold value (I looked it up) that pocket full of gold would be worth over $11,000.00. ($11,695.32 to be exact) If his body—and his pocket full of coins—lay there for months until someone found his rag-laced heap of bones polished clean and white by the sand and sun, the gold would still be there. As insensitive as it might sound, the guy that found him might say, “Wow, I just found 11-grand!” My point is not the tragedy nor the ethics of the finder, but that the circumstances faced by the lost guy, however, tragic or confusing, didn’t change the actual core value of the gold he carried even though is meant nothing to him as he wandered and eventually died.
True worship redirects our attention back to God’s real value.
All of us worship (assign worth to things or people). Not all of us are good at sorting out and recognizing the core value of a thing or individual as we worship them. The reason is often that our attention gets focused on the circumstances of our lives rather than the actual value of the person or thing. This slavery to our circumstances can wreck havoc on our ability to see the core value of people or things. We start measuring to everything its perceived, relative value. Living and thinking like this have a tendency to disconnect us from the real, solid value of the important things in our lives. God is the most important person in our lives whether we recognize Him as such or not. True worship redirects our attention back to God’s real value. The second word in our declaration, honor, addresses that problem.
What is Honor?
To honor someone means to give them the respect that is in keeping with their true value. To dishonor someone is to withhold the respect that they, or their position, deserve. This giving of, or withholding, respect is a choice. An example of how the choice of honor transcends personal circumstances and perceptions are all around us right now in this political season. Here’s the example: The Office of the President of the United States deserves honor regardless of what you think about the person holding that office (or running for it). Giving that honor is a choice that frankly is not dependent on how we think about or like or dislike the person in the office. Honor is about our choice to use certain words or actions, and it all comes from how we choose to think about the person or the office.
When we worship God rightly, we think about Him as He is revealed to us by Jesus, and we then choose to give Him the respect that is keeping with His core value as a being our loving Father. We also honor Him as our God, our creator, and our Lord and King. When we worship with this in mind, we are reminded of who He is and how much love and respect He deserves. From those thoughts, expressions of worship can take on a variety of actions we associate with the church like prayer, reading, singing, dancing, waving flags, and giving. It can also take the form of earthy, natural things like serving someone in need, listening to God’s heart in a situation and responding to what you hear; laughing or crying with someone, loving, eating, working, and many more things. Each of these actions is the outward expression of a choice that begins with focusing on God’s core value: His goodness and love, His authority and power, and His rightful place as the giver, sustainer, and center of life. When we worship, we focus primarily on the eternal, unchanging, core worth of God. As we think of Him that way, we come to Him with our worship(see Hebrews 11:6); and we choose to do it in spite of the circumstances in our life at the moment.
I’m not going to spend time detailing God in this post, but if you haven’t read Big Idea #1, Our God is a Happy Family, I encourage you to do so. It will help you know who we worship. So let’s move on to the words in the second phrase, “…makes you happy.”
Everyone reading this would say, “I know what makes means!” so I won’t belabor that word except to point out that we use “makes” to talk about change as it relates to taking something in one form and turning it into another form. Almost always we are talking about taking something like a raw material and making it into something more specific, purposeful, and refined than the raw material is by itself without the influence of the person making it. If you said, “I made a cake last night,” you would be referring to taking a mix or some from-scratch ingredients like flour, butter, eggs and stuff and fiddled with them by combining, mixing, heating or other stuff to make them into a more purposeful and intentional thing called a cake.
Our choice to worship (to think about the value of God and to choose to ascribe Him appropriate worth through our actions), has the ability to take the raw ingredients of our lives and make them—and us—into something and someone that won’t necessarily exist without the influence of worship. Makes is a familiar word, but the concept is pretty important.
Our choice to worship has the ability to take the raw ingredients of our lives and make us into something and someone that won’t necessarily exist without the influence of worship.
How About “You?”
You simply means… you! I can’t worship for you. The reason is simple. I can’t think about God for you, and I can’t make choices for you. Only you can do those things.
Happy Is Good
Happy is the word that I got in trouble over. One dear friend asked, “Don’t you think it would be better to say, ‘…gives you joy’?” He felt like happy was too broad or maybe even too shallow a word to associate with our personal benefit of worship. I understand the question…maybe even agree with the analysis, but I stuck with happy precisely because it is a broad and regular, every-day sort of word. Worship isn’t something religious that only deposits a lofty form of joy in our life—or at least I don’t think it should be thought of that way. The thinking that goes on before and as we worship God, and the actions that we choose to use to honor His worth touches us—remake us—in the very real and surface arena of our happiness.
I heard it said once that, “we have joy but we show happiness.” There is a truth there, and it’s another reason I chose the word happy. Big Idea #2 declares the dual truth that God is worthy of our praise, adoration, trust, and worship; and that when we make a choice to honor Him in worship, it will make us happy. Earlier, concerning our concept of the word made we mentioned that worship has the ability to take the raw ingredients of our lives and make them—and us—into something new. One of the characteristics of that new thing—that new person—is happiness. Yes, friends, you and I can be happy!
Worship Your Way To A Smile
Fix your eyes on Jesus. He is the complete revealing of God.
What you see in Jesus as you look with an adoring heart is exactly who God truly is. Jesus is the I Am of the Father. When you see Him as He is, it’s time to act. Give your heart and soul to worship. God will be blessed, and your very act of worship has the ability to supernaturally turn that frown upside-down.
You are loved.