The Message Bible Creator’s Thoughts on Worship pt. 2

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I recently finished reading Eugene Peterson’s Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, a book that I highly recommend for any Christian, and anyone involved in institutional ministry in particular.  In his final chapter on the book of Esther, Peterson writes an eloquent reminder to all Christ-followers of exactly what worship is, and who it’s for.  Last week, I quoted a brief portion of Five Smooth Stones that Peterson wrote about worship, and this week, I wanted to share one more.  It’s always good  for us to be reminded, particularly in our consumer-minded culture, that it’s not all about me.

From Eugene Peterson’s Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work

The other phrase of “neo-Baalism” is “I don’t get anything out of it.”  When it refers to participation in the Christian community it is accepted as a serious criticism and a valid excuse from further engagement in something that personal experience testifies is irrelevant and uninteresting.

The assumption that supposedly validates the phrase is that worship must be attractive and personally gratifying.  But that is simply Baalism redivivus, worship trimmed to the emotional and spiritual specifications of the worshipper.  The divine will that declares something beyond or other than what is already a part of the emotional-mental construct of the worshiper is spurned.  That worship might call for something beyond us is shrugged off as obscurantist.

And so the one indispensable presupposition of Christian worship, the God of the covenant who reveals himself in his word, is deleted.  A Freudian pleasure principle is substituted and worship is misused to harness God to human requirements.  Worship is falsified into being a projective cover for self-seeking.  That the self-seeking is in the area of the psychic rather than the sexual does little to improve the results over the old Baalism.  We may be entertained, warmed, diverted, or excited in such worship; we will probably not be changed, and we will not be saved.  Our feelings may be sensitized and our pleasures expanded.  But our morals will be dulled and our God fantasized.

p. 184-185

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