Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piper on worship

John Piper gets to the heart of what's wrong with a lot of worship in a lot of churches. Mine included.

The widespread notion that high moral acts must be free from self-interest is a great enemy of true worship. Worship is the highest moral act a human can perform; so the only basis and motivation for it that many people can conceive is the moral notion of disinterested performance of duty. But when worship is reduced to disinterested duty, it ceases to be worship. For worship is a feast of the glorious perfections of God in Christ.

God is not honored when we celebrate the high days of our relationship out of a mere sense of duty. He is honored when those days are our delight!

Not a few pastors scold their people that the worship services would be more lively if people came to give instead of to get. There is a better diagnosis.

People ought to come starved for God. They ought to come saying, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God" (Psalm 42:1). God is profoundly honored when people know that they will die of hunger and thirst unless they have God. And it is my job as a preacher to spread a banquet for them. I must show them from Scripture what they are really starving for—God—and then feed them well until they say, "Ahhh." That is worship.

As with food, there's an approach to worship that we might call the "eat to live" approach. We eat because we're obligated to eat. And there's truth in that. If we don't eat we will die. That's not a joyful approach to food though. But when we sit down to a delicious meal, prepared by a skillful chef, the joyful approach -- and the approach that will make the chef feel good -- is the "live to eat" approach. To see what that looks like check out Babette's Feast and Big Night -- two films that will make you say "Ahhh!" So it is with worship. Do you live to worship? God isn't honored when we merely worship to live. In that case worship becomes a means to an end, not the end in itself.

Quotes from The Dangerous Duty of Delight (Multnomah, 2001) pp. 54, 56

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