Pretty Feet Publications Vol 1 No 2
By Rich Mullins
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exhalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Aboce him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His Glory." 4 At the sound of their voices the door posts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." 6. Then one of the seaphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the alter. 7 With it, he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? ANd who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Wow -- what worship! This kind of thing could only happen in movies - or in Isiah. Why, I have sat thru some thousand, three hundred 'n fourteen Sunday services and never in all of them seen a seraph, or felt the building shake, or eaten any live coals!
And what material for religious debate! These eight little verses are full of points of interest for minds as vital as mine. Or maybe -- in view of the obvious and overwhelming main point -- I should say that this passage is full of fun little diversions for minds as unyielded as mine. Worship is not as light a matter to deal with as seraphs and smoke or coals, because if I look at it squarely, it may challenge me -- it may even demand a change in me.
We live in a world where "hallelu Yah"'s are just another of a series of pithy explatives; where "Praise God, Anyway" is almost as common to bumper stickers as Micky Mouse flipping Iranians the bird. Worship is just another slice of that "grand old" apple pie -- ask anyone. We're all worshipers. Some worship Jesus, some worship wealth, some worship buddhas -- but we all worship.
So what then makes Christian worship unique? There are three things that we can look at that will do as starting places. First of all, there is who we worship; secondly, why; and thirdly, how.
Just about any person you might ask would tell you that worshipfulness is a virtue, and most people would say that it is a part of man's inherent goodness. People have seen things of great worth and have marched into war for them, they have lived in poverty for them, they've been imprisoned and excommunicated and declared insane because of what they worshiped. Just anybody of any notoriety is remembered because they responded to something that was bigger than they were -- be it truth or justice or art or patriotism or whatever. There was something that arounsed that virtue of humility or self-sacrifice, and any good twentieth centry humanist would say "That is what religion is all about, and as long as one lives religiously (worshipfully -- in response to something greater than oneself) that is all that should concern us. Whether a person worships an idea or a person or an idol or a toaster is unimportant. The important thing is that a person worshiped."
Those of us who have a concern for being open-minded might be strongly tempted to agree with such thinking -- but only in the realm of philosophy or religion. In practical matters we might be less strongly tempted. For instance, if we were thirsty and went to a store to buy something to drink and the man at the counter said, "Oh, how human it is to thirst; here's a bottle of air or a can of gasoline to drink -- after all, what you drink is not important -- that you drink is," we would say that he was a nut and go elsewhere with our interest. Air would never quench our thirst, gasoline would poison us. What we drink is important. Isn't what we worship even more so?
Here, in Isaiah (and thru out the Bible) the object of worship is of major consequence. The first two of the Ten Commandments have this as their main considerations. Thru out the books of Israel's history, thru out the wisdom literature and the Psalms, thru all of the messages of the Prophets we see a concern not only for how the people worship and how fully they worship, but also for what or who they worship. God knows we will worship -- He is fully aware that as humans, we must worship. He also knows that only when we worship Him will what we do be meaninful.
...well, maybe not always. I said we had three things to discuss here and have so far touched only one. Now let me move on to the second thing that makes Christian worship unique.
Why we worship is just as important as who we worship. I say this as if we could worship with wrong motives -- and if we take the idea of "ascribing worth" literally then it becomes absurd to say that we can worship with bad motives. But we can "butter God up" and, tho it is not the same as worshiping Him, it often sneaks by us by impersonating worship.
You see, when we worship, we invite an awareness of "what we worship is" into ourselves, but that awareness comes as a package deal. With it comes its companion awareness -- who we are in light of what-we-worship is. When a person worships truth he becomes aware that all that is false about himself must leave. When a person worships art, he must recognize that he is himself a mere transmitter of it. When a person worships God -- the Creator, the Lord, he must see himself as a creation of God and a servant.
This is why Christian worship is particularly discomforting -- because the God of our scriptures is holy and demands that we -- His creations and His subjects -- must be holy and we are not. If this demand was unfair, we could dismiss it and content ourselves with being merely different -- but if His demand is not unfair (and He seems to think it's not) then we must admit that we are not merely "different" -- we are in fact "less." Where as the idea of being different does not offer so much as a pin prick to me, the idea of being less seems something like a mortal wound.
Here in the first four verses, Isaiah's worship is an exhilerating recognition of the glory of God. In verse 5, it becomes a source of distress because he sees that he is unclean and that his uncleanness is inappropriate. With this comes an element of worship that is found in Christian worship but not in heathen worship -- terror; knowing that you may be a lot of thingsm but the thing which is right for you to be is something you are not. Whatever you may be, then, is wrong, and there is nothing to proud about or pleased in. There is no reason for you to ask the God that you've disappointed to do anything for you -- even to acknowledge your presence.
This is so opposite the way we often approach worship. This leaves no room for bargaining with God, for "buttering Him up," for patronizing Him. If we are to worship Him, it has to come from "a broken and contrite heart," and it must be in full surrender to the will that cannot be conformed to my likings, but must transform me to its. Worship is not a tool for manipulating God -- that is magic. Worship is wanting to be a tool in the hand of God for Him to do with as He pleases. David and Saul illustrate this perfectly, but space is short and this is getting long...
Meanwhile, God cleanses Isaiah (v. 6-7) and the text takes us to our third focus -- how we worship. God says (v.8) "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" and Isaiah says, "Here am I. Send me."
Isaiah's worship could have been given in a lot of areas -- but he chose to give it to God. His worship brought him to a total surrender to the will of God, and finally it took him a life of commitment to that will. Read the rest of the book -- he fell out of favor with a public that demanded that he "settled down." He took every unpopular stand that a person could take. He lived out a worship that could not be confined to one temple or to a special occasion. And that is how we must worship. Jesus described it as worship that was "in spirit and in truth."
When worship becomes more than a virtuous affection that spends itself into bankruptcy, and it becomes an investment of what little love we've not yet lost in the only thing that can restore it to its original worth, then it can be called Biblical worship. When it becomes more than a binding of God's actions to our will, when it becomes a linking up of our smallminded wills to His Omniscient one, then it can be called Biblical worship. When it becomes more than an hour Sunday morning activity -- when it is our life condition, then it can be called Biblical worship.
So, let us worship. Let's worship the God to whom worship is appropriate, let's worship out of a rightly broken heart, and let's let worship govern our every action. This is Christian, Biblical worship. THat is the only way to do what He made us to do.
In Spirit and In Truth
By Suzanne Holt
"...a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume" (John 12:2-3).
This man -- this God -- whom Mary worshiped was the very same one with whom Lazarus reclined, to whom Martha served dinner. He was the same one who caused "fear and amazement" in his disciples when he calmed the storm (Like 8:25), who prompted the crowds to proclaim: "We have seen remarkable things today" (Like 5:26) after he healed a paralytic, and at whose knees Peter fell, saying, "Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Like 5:8)
But Mary, forgetting all else but who He was... to her -- and how much He mattered... to her -- expressed to Him (her Lord and God, and her "love" -- her friend) just that: she said, in her act of worship, how much the Christ meant to her; and she said it to no one else but Him. And he received it, understood it, approved it... as when "...one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So he went to the Pharisees' house... When a woman who lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus (was there), she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee... saw