In the introduction to For All God’s Worth, N.T. Wright describes the incarnation (Jesus) this way:
How can you cope with the end of a world and the beginning of another one? How can you put an earthquake into a test-tube, or the sea into a bottle? How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that fire has become flesh, that life itself came to life and walked in our midst? Christianity either means that, or it means nothing. It is either the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality in the world, or it’s a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful play-acting.
I think this is wonderful imagery! My former pastor, Karl Barden, put a practical spin on it:
If Christianity is anything, it is everything!
If you didn’t catch that, I’ll rephrase it: If Christianity is anything, anything at all, then it must be everything! Service to Jesus should absolutely dominate your life. I think both of these are another angle of the well-known challenge from C.S. Lewis:
I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I am ready to accept Jesus as the great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a boiled egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
So what do we do about this?! Lewis reveals his answer along with the question:
…fall at His feet and call Him (Jesus) Lord and God.
Bishop Wright goes on to prescribe:
…sheer unadulterated worship of the living and true God, and by following this God wherever he leads, whether or not it is the way our traditions would suggest. Worship is not an optional extra for the Christian, a self-indulgent religious activity. It is the basic Christian stance, and indeed…the truly human stance. “Worship” derives from “worth-ship”: it means giving God all he’s worth.
And Barden went on to put in 30 hard years of pastoring a congregation whose mission statement began with:
Lift up the Lord Jesus Christ in worship.
I think all of this is a wonderful place to start! The obvious next question to ask is “What is worship?” or “Can you tell or show me what it looks like?” From there we jump from our high position into a sea of confusion. I really want to come up with a working definition of “worship” over the next month. I think I’ll make it a series on this blog. I’ve had it explained to me many times, and each time, something quite different from the previous definition was being described. I want to work through all of this and come up with something more solid. Maybe it will be a long definition with 20 variations. Maybe it will be really short.
The purpose? Intellectual exercise? No. I want to worship Jesus! I want to do it right. I don’t want to miss something important. I want to teach my children how, and I’m not exactly sure what it looks like.