Saturday, March 5, 2011

On Worship

(I wrote this for a class blog. We were given the task of reading 100 pages of any book on worship.)

I chose to begin reading The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice by Mark Labberton. Initially, I was simply looking for a book on Kindle because I do not have any of my books on worship with me at home. Most of the books I saw had to do with things we have already covered in class. This book’s title stood out from the others. This book takes Best’s concept unceasing worship to the next level. Not only do we worship constantly but worship causes us to go out and seek to end injustice.

Labberton dives in deep right away. He defines worship as human beings reflecting God’s glory by embodying God’s character in life and seeking righteousness and justice.[1] Notice that he said nothing about Sunday mornings, sermons, or music. He continues by saying that worship does happen on Sunday mornings but that it also includes how we treat others, how we use our money, and how we love the lost and oppressed.[2]

He devotes much time in the introductory chapters attempting to gracefully point out problematic aspects of things that occur when churches gather on Sunday mornings. For example, he boldly points out that sermons that “play to culture” without “critiquing and engaging it” are a part of the problem.[3] Other times he calls out “worship directors” who are egocentric worshipers as well as flashy worship programs that entertain rather than challenge people to be transformed. He believes that true worship is dangerous because it “is meant to produce lives fully attentive to the reality as God sees it, and that’s more than most of us want to deal with.”[4]

This book is confirming some of the things about which I have already been thinking. Worship is not egocentric. Worship transforms us into people who live justly, walk humbly, and love mercy. As I consider church planting in the Bible belt in the distant future, I am seriously considering only having one Sunday a month that includes music. Music has become the focal point in many churches in western evangelical churches. It has started to overshadow Jesus and his call to be people who love him and love others.

[1] Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship, (Downers Grove: InerVarsity Press, 2007), Kindle Electronic Edition: Chapter 1, Location 104.

[2] Ibid. Chapter 1, Location 108.

[3] Ibid. Chapter 2, Location 175.

[4] Ibid. Chapter 3, Location 184.