The Most Human Thing We Do7
Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Israel
fell down in worship before the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:19).
What’s the most human thing we do? Better yet, what’s the most humanizing thing we do—what is it that makes us most distinctively and most fully human?
Worship. Every human being is a worshipper … of something. Christ calls us to be worshipers of God, for we become more and more like what or whom we worship.
Worship is not merely “showing up for church,” jumping through some hoops of ritual, or making a social call on the Almighty for an hour or so every week or so. To worship God is to become more fully who God has called and created us to be. To worship is to ascribe ultimate worth to God alone. To worship is to actively orient heart and soul, mind and body, strength and life to the Lord. To worship is to see everything, all of life, every aspect of my life, as defined by who God is and addressed by what God has said and drawn into God’s saving and just work.
When Jehoshaphat, Israel’s king, receives terrible news—“a vast army is coming against you” (verse 2)—his response is to worship God. Worship is not one thing, it is an interlocking, interconnected set of attitudes and practices. Here are a few of the aspects of worship we see at work in this chapter:
Jehoshaphat inquires of the Lord (verse 3). He asks for God’s perspective, that he might see things the way God sees them. He is asking for help: not to feel better, or to “make it go away,” but rather help to know what God is calling him to be and do in the face of the danger he and his people face.
He calls the entire community together in a fast (verse 3). Created in the image of the one triune God who is an eternal community of love among Father, Son and Spirit, we are shaped to be more fully human as we worship God together. Worship is communal and community-building. Fasting is a worship practice that reminds us and one another about where real life is truly found: not in “bread alone,” not in our powers and abilities, or our “stuff,” or our wealth and status; real life is found in lively fellowship with God in our community of worship.
He leads his community in prayer (verses 5-13). Note verse 13: “All the men, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.” The work of prayer is not left to a few specialized “prayer warriors.” The entire community worships God by praying together.
He responds in faith to the word of God, as it is spoken by a prophet. Worship positions us to receive God’s word to us and for us. God doesn’t merely inform our minds, he calls us to faithful action. There is work to be done, and worship leads us into the work of God in our world.
He then “bowed with his face to the ground” leading all his people to fall down in worship before the LORD. And then, having worshipped together, they move out in obedience together: more fully human, more fully alive, more fully faithful to their faithful God.
Our world fashions us to be consumers, and we can bring these attitudes into worship: did I like the music, did the sermon “bless me,” did the “meeting” run on schedule, and so on. What are two or three things that you bring and contribute to the worship of Chatham Church? How could you bring them more purposefully and contribute them more generously?