Thursday, July 16, 2009

Worship God With Body and Soul

Malcolm H. Watts, "The Importance of Purity in Worship," in Malcolm H. Watts and David Silversides, The Worship of God, p. 8:

Body and Soul

So worship is response, but how exactly should we respond to divine revelation? The Law, in its First and Second Commandments, teaches that we should worship God with both our bodies and our souls (Exod. 20:3,4).

Elsewhere in Scripture, we read, 'Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's' (1 Cor. 6:20). The former will obviously include regular attendance, reverent posture, appropriate dress, orderly conduct, and prescribed activity (Matt 18:20; Mk 11:25; 1 Cor 11:1-16; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 3:15 and Rev 2:7). The latter (without which the former will always be in vain, Mk 7:6) will involve inward devotion, expressed in thought, longing, trust, delight, and hope (Ps 48:9); 105:3,4; Is 26:1-3; Phil 3:3; Heb 3:6).

It cannot be sufficiently emphasised, however, that true worship is essentially internal. It concerns the spiritual exercise of our souls. Accordingly, we are told that God requires 'truth (sincere devotion) in the inward parts' and that the true worshippers worship him 'in spirit (that is, in spiritual communion)' (Ps 51:6; Jn 4:23; cf Hos 6:6; Eph 6:18). External acts of the body, while not unimportant, simply express what is being inwardly felt about God. Thus the Psalmist beings his song of praise with the words, 'My heart is inditing (literally, bubbling over [with]) a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the kind: my tongue is a pen of a ready writer' (Ps 45:1).

Sacred impressions upon our souls produce feelings of reverance and adoration. These are expressed before God in solemn, religious worship. Hence, the exhortation of David: 'Ye people, pour out your hearts before him' (Ps 65:8).

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