Are we going to be characterized by looking for hilltop mansions and craving golden crowns or by “casting down our golden crowns” at his feet?
Will we merely obligatorily stand for the chorus of “I Stand in Awe of You”? Or will we stand, or use other worship gestures and postures, out of a sincere sense of worship?
Standing up because the relative musical energy of some “over yonder” song like “Mansion over a Hilltop” or “When the Roll Is Called” embarrasses me a tad bit, but I understand that some people are really energized by that kind of thing. I simply can’t fathom how the two can exist together — first, standing in reverence with thoughts of God Almighty’s character; then, continuing to stand out of childish cravings for crowns and castles.
And how did we ever descend to the notion that we can whine “God, I want a crown,” anyway? To receive the victor’s crown (stephanos) by virtue of finishing the race is good, but I suspect the crown/wreath imagery in 1Corinthians 9:25 or 1Peter 5:4 or 2Timothy 4:8 is not intended to suggest that we actively seek crowns from God. I can only hope no one has the other biblical kind of crown in mind — the kingly diadema of Revelation 19:12.
Rather, a more apt, perhaps ultimate word is this: the twenty-four elders¹ worship Him who lives forever and ever, casting their crowns before the throne, saying, “You are worthy, our Lord and our God.” (Revelation 4:10-11)
¹ I take the “twenty-four elders” as symbolizing the entirety of covenants given by Moses and Jesus, i.e., the completeness of the sons of Jacob coming together with the completeness of the New Covenant lived out through Jesus’ twelve apostles.