"Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or halffull)
of artificial admirers (like people who write generic anniversary cards for a
living). On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and
cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true
worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and
sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow
of biblical worship."
Yes, this might be my second Piper post today, but hey, I love this guy...well-worded sound theology that really brings out the truth of scripture.
This quote comes from Piper's book "Desiring God"...a classic...a must read for anyone who wants to see that the greatest pleasure,delight, and admiration anyone can experience is in God, and God's infinitely, eternal, and glorious pleasure rests in Him revealing and giving His children the only thing that is worthy of being delighted and satisfied in....Him and His glory.
I came across this quote in the book and I absolutely agree with Piper as he is refrencing John 4:23 -24 and talking about true worship. Both a proper knowledge and conception of God along with a deeply moving conviction within ,that produces the utmost joy and passion for Him is necessary for genuine worship. One without the other will ultimately result in dead worship that is vain in the eyes of God.
It is so easy to just come to church and sing the songs, Sunday after Sunday...many lift their hands, close their eyes, and repeat the lyrics as if their whole lives were wrapped up in the meaning of the song....only to return to carnal minds and fleshly lifestyles 40 minutes later after the service is over. People can easily jump, shout, and dance, all in the name of worship when their favorite song is on...but when those same Christians encounter the soothing sounds of their former favorite artist, they return to finding pleasure in the secularized lyrics that they ought to hate...this nullifies the "worship" that they thought they were previously in because their lives and actions testified that what comes from the world is just as worthy, if not more worthy, of worship as God. This is only one side of the square...
On the other hand, when worship lacks the foundation and four walls of sound doctrine, and when a proper conception of God is missing, then it will produce an emotional, hyped- up "empty" Christian who cannot tell you anything about the God they serve, yet they are confident that they know whom they are worshipping...and upon this foundation, many require, look for, and are ready to recieve signs and/or extra- biblical accounts to validate and verify as well as feed their shallowness; things such as powerful dreams, visions, and supernatural experiences - sightings of angels, fire from heaven, mighty signs and wonders and so forth fill the void that proper theology ought to fill. Don't get me wrong, these things are well and blessed(most of them), and they are mighty to experience and behold...but there will be many on the great day of Judgment who will hold fast to these things as a confirmation that they knew God, yet Jesus declares to them that He never knew them, which also means that they never really knew Him.
Worship in spirit and truth must be more than a passionate, emotional zeal that is only a mask for ignorance because there is no genuine theological foundation under it (Proverbs 19:2 ; Romans 10:2) Worship is passionate, it truly involves the emotions, and it is experiencing the awesomeness and fullness of a vastly incomprehensible, yet all consuming and filling God who desires that we seek and worship Him with all that we are; but our emotions and the outward displays of worship that are genuine are the fruit of a genuine knowledge of God and a proper theology. Both work hand in hand to glorify Him truly and worship Him in spirit.
Lastly, the other side to this is having a mighty theology , yet lacking a desire and a passion for God. Many, including myself hold to the great doctrines concerning God's Sovereignty in all things, and some, in pursuit of more knowledge about these doctrines lose their first love, become less loving themselves, and take on the role of critic rather than counselor. In my own personal experience, I have found theology not as a quest for more head knowledge, but a nest where the Gracious and Merciful Father has chosen to hide me under His wings when I never even deserved it, and because He has already done so much for me, I now forsake all to know Him more and more.... Theology has become a foundation for worship like I have never known it before...a worship that fills and overflows and not a worship that is leaking as if I were a glass with holes in it or a broken cistern. It has caused me to see and hold fast to the fact that God saves, God gives grace, God gives faith, and God keeps that faith working until the end. Theology has helped me to be able to sit in the most quitest of places without music, without stage lights, and without glorious guitar-riffs , and take in the beauty and magnificance of God by just observing something as small as a caterpillar on the ground...yet, when I do enter the worship that is found in venues with beautiful lighting, sound, awesome instruments, and many other worshippers, I still feel the same confidence in Him and in His presence as I did in the stillness...
Theology must produce worship, or its no theology at all....because men were made to worship and enjoy God and glorify Him forever.