Finding the Art in Everything

21 January, 2009

On Worship

I came across an outstanding definition of "Worship" the other day, from Ravi Zacharias:

"Spring[ing] forth out of gratitude and tak[ing] into full cognizance the mystery of my being before the One who is the cause of my being and who Himself can never, not be.... It is a response of apprecation... of awe, of surrender, of hunger to be consummated in the Spirit..."

Zacharias offered this defintion as he offered the practice of Christian Worship to counter the act of lonliness. I'll be honest, I'm really glad he dwelt foremost on the problem of lonliness and snuck in the solution of worship near the end--because my impresion of worship is mediocre (and if you've rare luck, good) music on a Sunday morning that can't really be offered as an answer with any real sincerity.

But the "worship" described by Zacharias is also something much more comprehensive than that. Worship as he describes it, overflows from the most powerful kind of Love:

It is an expression of wonder--the awe of being. Our existence alone is enough to inspire awe and wonder. The observant--artists and scientists--are not short on this. But the problem, often with the wonder of science or art is that neither discipline can be thanked. In this, wonder has to stop at itself. Z. suggests that one cause of the pervasive human isolation is when the worst happens: becoming an ungrateful people, thinking that by their own hands people had planted and reaped. Self-congratulation is inherently isolating.

The second characteristic of real worship that answers lonliness is the way that it acts as a conduit for love. Wonder turns to appreciation, and appreciation, through gratitude, turns to love. To paraphrase Z. and C.S. Lewis, the love of appreciation flows to a giving love for those in the throes of love that is based in need (a sense of deprivation). Because of love for God, based in wonder, love can endure all things. This is the the only way "the spread of alienation is arrested and the nearness of Christ's love is brought to those who are lonely."

Last, worship brings a "coalescence of essence", bringing life into a single focus. Again, Z. uses the example of gifted artists and writers in that they "more poignantly feel the ache of lonliness because their is a mangled finds fulfillment in its expertise before it finds fulfillment in its being... the ache is a deeply-felt fragmentation...we cannot mangle ourselves essentially without a resultant sense of desolation." Worship may be the only thing that can reach the severed soul, because it acknowledges "each individual is a unique and distinctive offering brought to God in gratitude".

Several circumstances lately have called me to reflect on the defective relational behavior begotten by the deepest lonliness. The most devastating effect of the lonliness is that it motivates destructive behavior with isolating consequences, and that isolation brings lonliness. Seeking something from other people in this situation is a grave error, because even the balm of meaningful contact can't be applied to these open wounds, much less the disappointing substitutions we have for meaningful contact.

Maybe the only solution to this viscious cycle really is to acknowldge our very real hunger and, being awed by the unique and distinctive features of existence, respond in appreciation and surrender.

1 comment:

Allen said...

This is great....good thought for my upcoming series.