By Curtis Shelburne: CNJ Religion Columnist
Some of us were born for the “do it yourself” age. Even if I could afford to pay someone to do the “fix it” jobs and “honey-do’s” that are continually begging to be done around the house, I’m not sure I would. Up do a point (a point I flew past during a recent renovation), I enjoy doing those things.
If I were a carpenter or an electrician by trade, I’d likely feel differently, but since my daily work is so dissimilar to theirs, my idea of a great Saturday is four or five precious hours down in the garage sawing boards, hammering something, playing with power tools, trying to fix or improve some gadget on the workbench, and befouling the air on occasion with a little pipe smoke. If a home is a man’s castle, the real throne room is the garage. I like it there.
“Do it yourself” projects around the house can be great, but what about “do it yourself” worship? What about worship in which the sum total of the experience is completely centered on what we do and the external “mechanics” of worship?
What we do is important. How worship is designed matters because worship is a holy thing. The goal is to focus our souls and feast on God and get past and outside of ourselves. If we aren’t prepared or led properly in worship, its very shoddiness can call attention to itself and away from God.
But no matter how conscientious we are, no matter our “style,” we all face the temptation of coming to church not expecting any real contact with the God of the universe at all. Worship can become so completely centered on us that we could carry it out just about as well if God didn’t even exist.
So here’s the question: Can genuine worship take place without wonder?
In his fine book on worship, Warren Wiersbe writes that “true wonder is not a passing emotion or some kind of shallow excitement. . . . It not only has depth, it has value; it enriches your life. It is an encounter with reality—with God—that brings awe to your heart.”
In “do it yourself” worship, we bow basically just to supposedly satisfy a rule or two and get a myopic view of ourselves. Face it, we’re boring. In true worship we bow and come face to face with the absolute wonder of a lovingly gracious, awesomely powerful, and always marvelously unpredictable God.
Wiersbe quotes Albert Einstein: “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. He who knows it not, can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.”
“Faith without works is dead,” the Bible tells us. So is worship without wonder.