24 August 2020

It is true that everyone worships someone or something. Man finds it natural to worship, even natural to worship unnatural things. He cannot help but assign ultimate value to someone or something – but that does not mean that everyone worships God. His devotion may rest in money, success, a person, an ambition, a cause and so forth. What we are devoted to ultimately will shape and determine our lives.

For us as Christians, we must realise that when we value things more than we value God, we end up worshipping secondary things. Secondary things can never satisfy core longings in our hearts. Only a love relationship with our Creator, the triune God, can fully satisfy. Our desire for God and our capacity to connect and relate with Him is truly the essence of who we are.

In worship of God, we must know that it is God who invented delight, joy and celebration. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit move together in a celebration of self-giving love, and worship, in one sense, is a response to God’s invitation to join in this celebration. We enter into the divine life of the Trinity through celebration which enlarges our capacity to enjoy God and serve God. But we need to emphasise that celebrating God does not depend on perfect circumstances or happy feelings and emotions. Even in prison, Paul and Silas found something to sing about (Acts16). Even Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet”, wrote:

“My soul is downcast within me, Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.. Great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:20-24). Jeremiah found reason to delight and hope in God even in lament.

The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. Today, in the midst of the viral pandemic, many have reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrows is the continuous pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day. To set our hearts on this joy in worship reminds us that we can choose how to respond to any particular moment. We can search for God in all circumstances, or not. We can seek the hope and celebrations because it is God’s reality. Heaven is celebrating. Even right now, the angels, the saints (including the martyrs) overflow with joy in the presence of their creator. This is the total reality: what we see physically here on earth does not comprise total reality. Every small experience of Jesus with us is a taste of the joy to come. We are not alone – and that in itself is reason to celebrate.

We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to live with a grateful heart, recognising God’s work in our life and HIs abundant resources and providence. Gratitude is a loving and thankful response toward God for His presence with us and within this world. Delight in God and His good will is the heartbeat of thankfulness, and thankfulness, gratitude lead to joy, celebration and worship.