Friday, October 30, 2009

Justice is Worship

We're asking what is worship? with the junior highers on Sunday mornings. It's a deep question with a variety of answers, but I'm convinced that worship is more than "those four or five songs during a church service on Sunday mornings." Sure, worship includes music--poetry and songs make up a big chunk of Scripture--and it's also an entire life postured around glorifying God. John the Baptist has one of the simplest and most profound definitions in Scripture:

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Yet there is a tangible aspect of worship often missing when we hear the word in Christian culture. This quote from Mark Labberton sums it up nicely:
According to the narrative of Scripture, the very heart of how we show and distinguish true worship from false worship is apparent in how we respond to the poor, the oppressed, the neglected, and the forgotten. As of now, I do not see this theme troubling the waters of worship in the American church. But justice and mercy are not add-ons to worship, nor are they the consequences of worship. Justice and mercy are intrinsic to God and therefore intrinsic to the worship of God.
Perhaps the language of worship should include words like "justice," "mission," and "compassion." Perhaps our view of worship should expand from music and prayer and the pondering of Scripture and include fighting injustice.

What would it look like if the primary responsibility of a church's worship pastor wasn't prepare and lead songs for church services? What if it was engage in ending poverty, combat sex trafficking, lead our people to serve the poor and marginalized in our city, help break down systems of oppression, and foster community development?

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