Worship: Our Highest Calling
January 28, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, begins with a note on worship. This opening paragraph may be one of the most quoted paragraphs from all of Piper’s writings. It is worth reading again:
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question of what is the chief end of man (i.e. the highest calling we can strive for) by stating our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The core of the meaning of the word worship is ascribing worth. To glorify God is to worship him; to ascribe infinite worth to him. Worship is more than singing. We worship God (we acknowledge his worth to us) in how we use our money, how we use our time, how we treat our families, and how we use our gifts, talents, education, and abilities for blessing others. Every moment of every day is to be worship (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31).
Singing, especially congregational singing, plays a significant role in the worship of God, however, for the people of God. 1 Chronicles 23-26 record in detail King David’s meticulous efforts to order and prepare for singing in the temple worship. The longest book of the Bible is a song book for the people of God. Even in the New Testament, singing is evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 5:18-19).
Why is singing so vital for the people of God in their pursuit to glorify God?
1. Singing naturally gives expression for the delights of the heart. C.S. Lewis says, “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise… I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation” (Reflections on the Psalms, p 94-95). Our chief end is to enjoy God forever. Singing in praise is the natural, “appointed consummation” of that delight. If we do not sing, or if we do not feel inclined to sing, are we enjoying God?
2. Singing is a means to enjoy God more fully. The psalmist says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (37:4) and “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (34:8) and “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (16:11). God is to be enjoyed, for he is good! Congregational singing brings us to engage with the goodness of God and delight in it.
3. Singing is commanded. This ought not to be minimized. Far too many Christians excuse themselves from engaging in singing for one reason or another (inability to sing, unfamiliar with words or tunes, not my style, etc.). But singing is not optional! Hear the Psalmist and the straightforward commands for God’s people: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Enter his gates with thanksgiving! Give thanks to him!” (Ps. 100).
Joining in song with your church family is one of the highest callings for your week. Yes, you are called to be a faithful witness to the gospel, a faithful spouse, a faithful parent, a faithful employee, a faithful student, etc. You certainly glorify God through all of these callings. Do not minimize, though, the place of singing with the people of God.
Pray for the elders at Oak Hills. We are using this time of transition (with Josiah Smith moving to Oklahoma City) to reevaluate our vision, expectations, and commitment to congregational singing. We long that our weekly public worship gathering would be a high point for the people of Oak Hills, fulfilling this vision of the high calling that is worship. Pray that the elders would have wisdom and unity in making decisions and that our church family would grow in our delight in the Lord.