Voices: James MacDonald (vertical/horizontal 2)


We are frequently told that making a meal for your family or cleaning your car or helping your neighbor are all acts of worship.  When these acts are the outgrowth of our love for God and are done to demonstrate that love, I would agree that they are “worshipful,” but technically they are not worship.  I’m not seeking to parse meanings with undue rigor, but we need to be precise in our definitions if we want to embrace accurately the very purpose for our existence.  Worship is the actual act of ascribing worth directly to God.  Worshipful actions may do this indirectly, but when the Bible commands and commends worship as our highest expression, it is not talking about anything other than direct, intentional, vertical outpouring of adoration.

– James McDonald, “Unashamed Adoration,” in Worship Leader magazine, November-December 2012

I offer the above in a semi-shameless fit of self-propping.  In other words, I frequently emphasize the same thing in speech and in writing, and was gratified to find a writer in the nationally reputed Worship Leader magazine saying very well what I often attempt to say.  (I say it more verbosely and less effectively than MacDonald did!)

MacDonald again:

“Much of my experience was horizontal singing about (emphasis mine  -bc) the Lord, not vertical singing to him.  My concern with such indirect language is that it betrays the mistaken notion that God is not present in His church.

I think he is onto something here, although the “betrayal” of which he speaks is certainly not an absolute or even a general rule.  He proceeds, requiring that all language be direct and vertical, and I would disagree, but his emphasis is well taken.

For more on this topic, try these posts:

Everything We Do?  (Nope.)

Service, Worship, and Interests

Romans 12:  logikan latreian as worship


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