Worship: spiritual, timeless, chosen

[The following is excerpted, adapted, and expanded from my reply to a reader’s comment on this prior post.]

Generally, under the New Covenant, I see the trends as having moved away from the physical, toward the spiritual.  (For more, please see this post on the Old and new.)  I tend to support and resonate with emphases on the spiritual over the physical.

In the realm of worship, I did go through a phase, some years ago, in which worship needed to be more physical, but I’m not altogether sure my “need” was of the Lord.  These days, I’m more interested in what’s going on beyond the physical.  Physical manifestations of worship may not be entirely immaterial, but the seen should at least be subservient to the unseen.

Under the Old Covenant, God prescribed certain physical acts of sacrifice and priestly temple service.  Although prescribed details — or legislated specifications, if you will — are certainly present in any lucid consideration of the relationship between the divine and the human, I take some exception to an analysis based outright on prescription (either under the Old or New).  As one considers Joseph, Enoch, Abraham, David, Elijah, and others with hindsight, there seems to have been more than legislation at work as they related to God.

Based on the examples of worship in, e.g., Psalms, John, Revelation, I take stronger exception to any suggestion that all worship, as an act of the spirit and/or body, was somehow eradicated with the coming of Jesus.  The worship of believers in Jesus Christ, like immersion and basic meals and the assembly of Christians, seems to me to have been something they simply, naturally did (a lot), without the need for the apostles et al to write about it at every turn.

awesomegod

Adoring, worshipful response is natural — and, I would say, anticipated and desired and right. (Personally, I’d stop short of saying worship is “commanded” or “demanded”; I hear those words as needlessly negatively charged in this age.)  I do think God continues to seek worship of the proskuneo sort.  Note Ps 69:32, Ps 70:4, and 2 Chron 16:9.  While the “seeking” of the last verse may be understood variously, as seen in various translations, attributing to God the notion of “seeking” doesn’t for me render Him heavy-handed.  I don’t think we paint God as some sort of tyrant or egomaniacal being when we understand Him as desiring worshipful response.

Until He moves me on, I’m content with exploring the ways and means of proskuneo — because it seems good for me, and because I’m convinced it pleases God.  Worship may ultimately be pleasing to Him specifically because it is something I choose, whether I want to think of Him as asking for it or not.

Probably not merely incidentally, I take Revelation (after chapters 2 & 3) as primarily presenting a timeless picture of the eternal kingdom, and I hang some of my worship “hats” on the hooks shown in chapters 4, 5, and 19:6ff. I presume that the active proskuneo occurring there indicates that worship is a timeless assumption for the believing community.

In the meantime, I’m not at all content with my efforts or with the corporate worship I experience most often (yesterday’s prayers seemed either presentational or flaccid, and the songs rather lethargic and uncommitted) . . . but I keep trying to worship, as I believe I will eternally.

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