I recently finished reading David Peterson's Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (IVP, 1992). I came upon this book for two reasons. First, I wanted to read a book about worship that focused on the scriptures instead of either denominational traditions or some sort of "hymns versus praise choruses" debate. Second, this book is one of Alan Knox's three favorites. Thanks, Alan!
Two quotes stand out to me from this text. Peterson says:
"Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms that He proposes and in the manner that He makes possible (p. 283)."
"Acceptable worship in Old Testament terms involves homage, service, and reverence, demonstrated in the whole of life. A common factor in these three ways of describing Israel's response to God is the assumption that He had acted towards them in revelation and redemption, to make it possible for them to engage with Him acceptably (p. 73)."One of Peterson's primary thrusts is that it is God who determines what is acceptable worship.
This book is making me think about how I am living out my life. Is what I think of worship the same as what God thinks of worship? If not, then what does God think of my life?
I am reminded of the example of Nadab and Abihu in the Old Testament. Leviticus 10:1-2 tells us, "Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD."
God takes worship very seriously (when I use the word "worship," I am referring to an entire life given to God, not a church service at 11:00 AM on Sundays). Peterson's book makes me want to examine my life more closely to see if both my definition and my practice of worship are acceptable to God.
In other words, is my worship Biblical? Is yours?