True Worship

Many Christians ask themselves what worshipping God looks like (here assuming the Biblical understanding of God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)? These are well-meaning individuals who want to follow the Law and please God, but they misunderstand the Law and its purpose. Worship is not about us pleasing God. Of course God is pleased when the orphans and widows are cared for, and when His Christians fight against the works of the Devil and Flesh, but these acts are not the center of worship, nor its fullest expression. Our true worship as Christians is to call upon God in every trouble, to pray, praise, and give thanks, to trust that God is OUR God, and that He cares for us. It is to believe His Word and take  to heart that what He says, all of what He says, is for us and our salvation. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, written by the courageous Phillip Melanchthon against the idea that love justifies, understands worship of Christ in these terms. He draws upon the image of the woman who had come to Christ in the Pharisee’s home, who was cleaning His feet with her tears and hair, seeking the Messiah, to prove the true fr. Here I quote the Apology, Article V, paragraphs 31-34 (152-155)

The woman came with the opinion that forgiveness of sins should be sought in Christ. This worship is the highest worship of Christ. She could think nothing greater about Christ. To seek forgiveness of sins from Him was truly to acknowledge the Messiah. To think of Christ this way, to worship Him this way, to embrace Him this way, is truly to believe.”

True worship of God the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit is to believe what He says in his Word, to recognize our great Sin and seek mercy from Him where He has given it out in abundance. We grasp Him, we embrace Him, as He embraces us and grasps us in Word and Sacrament. There in Baptism he takes you to be His own. In the Lord’s Supper He offers Himself to you for the forgiveness of your sins. This is the highest, the purest, worship of God, worship free from our hypocrisy, that we have anything worthy in ourselves to come before Him. We stand before Him with open hands and ears and mouths to receive his promised mercy. There Christ, our Redeemer, is giving out His gifts. All is ready. Amen.

Dr. Beverly Yahnke on Meaning of Idolatry

I’ve come to believe that one of the most insidious threats to the Christian and to his faith is the presence of idols in his life. The unholy altar at which Christians stumble rests in their hearts and minds. In the privacy of their hearts they unblinkingly and unthinkingly worship the unholy Trinity of “me, myself and I.” Idols are our quiet, whispering habits of self-reliance that seduce us away from our dependency on our Heavenly Father. Briefly defined, I believe that postmodern idols are our solution for our own problems. Sadly it is often our solutions that sustain our spiritual distress.

The Happy Exchange through Prayer

Since we are disciples of Jesus, He gives us much more than a set prayer that is to be the model for all our prayers; He gives us His own status as God’s Son and allows us to share in all the privileges of His unique relationship with His Heavenly Father. By giving us His prayer, He includes us in His relationship with His Father and allows us act as if we were Him, dressed up in Him. By giving us his prayer, Jesus puts us in His shoes and involves us in His royal mission, the holy vocation as the royal Son of God. We may therefore stand in His shoes and pray with for the hallowing of His Father’s name and the coming of His Father’s kingdom.

Still, it gets even better than that. The prayer that Jesus gives us to pray with Him is, in fact, His prayer for us and for the whole world. In it He does not just address God as His own Father, but as “our” Father; He goes so far as to pray for our daily bread, our forgiveness, and our protection in temptation. He therefore identifies himself with us and attends to our needs so that we can identify ourselves with him and receive his blessings. He swaps places with us, so that we can be where he is before God the Father (John 12:26; 17:24). So then, when Jesus teaches us to pray, he gives himself and his intercession to us. Luther says, rather picturesquely, that Jesus piggy-backs us into his Father’s presence; we ascend ‘in his skin and on his back.’

Believe!

From The Foolishness of God by Siegbert W. Becker

‘Believing,’ for Luther, meant simply an acceptance of the bare Word of God and a trust-filled resting on its promises.

It’s so simple that we miss it every time.

Liturgy as Means of Cultural Transformation

Instead of constantly asking “What’s wrong with the liturgy?” we should be asking “What’s wrong with the culture?”- concentrating our attention on the renewal of the culture through liturgy, not vice versa. The goal of good liturgy is always to transform the lives of people [the transforming of culture] by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is hardly accomplished if the liturgy is subjected to the whimsies of culture. Culture, untransformed by liturgy, in effect destroys that liturgy. The church becomes indistinguishable from the culture and the Gospel is lost. This is the real secularization and destruction of the Gospel.

From Lutheran Worship: History and Practice

Arthur A. Just
Professor and Chairman of Exegetical Theology

CyberBrethren – A Lutheran Blog

The Rev. Paul T. McCain over at the CyberBrethren blog succinctly summarized the Christian life in the words of Martin Luther.

Because you have taken hold of Christ by faith, through whom you are righteous, you should now go and love God and your neighbor. Call upon God, give thanks to Him, preach Him, praise Him, confess Him. Do good to your neighbor, and serve him; do your duty. These are truly good works, which flow from this faith and joy conceived in the heart because we have the forgiveness of sins freely through Christ.

No longer must we worry about appeasing God. We have His favor in the sacrifice of Christ. His promises are sure and certain. There is no more fear of sin, death, or the devil. So now we are free to do good works for our neighbor.