Sunday, July 26, 2009

Understanding - Why It's Important For Worship

Today Kurt walked us through Psalms 146-150, wrapping up the book of Psalms. There were some incredible and memorable points he directed us to, worth mentioning here to revisit a little later:

1. True Praise comes from the proper perspective.

-We need to have a long-term perspective (Psalm 146:2-5; 150:2a).
Mortal man acts in short-term; God acts over time.
-We need a breadth of perspective (Psalm 147:4, 8-9; 150:1b).
The question is not how or why God sustains the Universe, but that He does.
-We need a personal perspective (Psalm 146:7-9; 150:2b; 8:3-9).
We are the highest creation God created, yet while He loves us it's not about us.

2. True Praise comes through the proper passion.

-Passionate praise is using everything we have (Psalm 150:3-5).
-Passionate praise is unreserved, wholehearted joy (2 Samuel 6).
-Passionate praise is wholehearted gratitude.
-Passionate praise is suspending the requirement of understanding (Ecclesiastes 11:5).

3. Conclusion: The Law is intended to bring us life (Psalm 1:1-4; John 10:10).

-Obedience is the means - not the end itself - by which we find this joy and true life.


I want to discuss the last bullet in Point #2: specifically, why understanding is important for worship. I found myself stuck on this during the service. With so much impression of God on creation and life, I wanted to consider all of these wonders. This is a good thing. However, at one point I reached the end of my understanding; Ecclesiastes 11:5 was striking a chord.

As people, we long to understand. When someone does something nice for us, we want to know why. Were they trying to get something in return? Or were they being nice because they care? We also long to understand when something bad happens. How could God let this happen? Why me? We go to great lengths in science and philosophy (see epistemology), for example, to understand things. This is how God created us.

The problem interjected itself when we chose to disobey in Genesis 3. We as humans decided we wanted to be like God and know as He knows. When bad things started happening, we began blaming God because we could not understand how such a good God could let those bad things happen. Can you see how this desire for wanting to know as God knows creates a false perspective and thus a false reality and worldview? Even for Christians, this affects our ability to worship because, just like me earlier this morning, we pursue understanding fuelled by our human desire for God-like knowledge. This is like trying to fit the contents of my DVD collection onto one CD; it's impossible and fruitless.

The solution, then, is to suspend the requirement of understanding, as Kurt put it. Or, more functionally, the solution is to use our understanding to admit that we do not understand and can never understand God. Nobody can fathom His greatness. Notice how this kind of understanding redirects right back to God, as in Psalm 145:3 and Job 38:2-5. Furthermore, it allows us to be obedient to God because we are able to worship with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and worship in Spirit and Truth.

Understanding helps us worship better because we discover our own human limitations of understanding, and God's limitlessness. This maintains a worldview of truth - that we are not and can not be God. Submitting to God's superiority is humbling to us and glorifying to God. What a relief for us that we need not seek understanding things beyong us - better yet, what a point for praise to God for taking this burden, because He is worthy! Hallelujah!

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