Thursday, November 29, 2012

Worship: Pathos and Obedience

Worship for the Believer
Pathos and Obedience
Genesis 22:4–8

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
In no other passage, do we see the depth of human pathos mixed with faith so greatly demonstrated. Abraham said such actions were worship. Abraham worshipped God by exercising blind faith that God would provide a sacrifice. With no reservation, but probably the sorrow of a grieving father, Abraham obediently followed through to the point of putting his son to death. Only the voice of God stopped him from taking the knife and plunging it into the body of his sacrifice of worship to God, Isaac.
Worship to this degree is unparalleled in modern Christianity. In fact, such blind devotion would be punished as reckless endangerment. It is definitely not a part of our current understanding of worship of God in this modern culture. Unbridled obedience is substituted with music, expressions of unbridled obedience, and solemnity. Our church worship falls far short of such worship; because we worship corporately, thus minimizing the personal pathos and obedience. Jesus was emphatic about this type of worship being vanity.

Matthew 15:3–9

3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The context of this passage is a rebuke to the Pharisees, because they misused the scriptures disallowing personal pathos and obedience. Instead, they chose convenience concerning their obligation to their parents. By wrongly subjugating God’s Word to their traditions, they added to their own personal wealth and convenience; but declared they worshipped God. The church must flee form, and engage pathos and obedience, spirit and truth, so worship has substance over form.

The true worship of God must include pathos of truth, obedience, and unrestricted faith demonstrated by actions, or it is in vain. We can employ in church services all the trappings of worship, solemnity, grandeur, and earnestness, but apart from obedience to personal cost, it is in vain. We are experiencing a nice spiritual experience which placates the need to worship and satisfying our feelings, but it leaves God unmoved or even displeased.

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