Humility and Worship

Vanhoozer states, “Humility is the manner of life worthy of the gospel, the key feature of Christian citizenship, the way a disciple enacts the mind of Christ” ("Pictures at a Theological Exhibition," 211). This is crucial, not only with regard to truth and Christian love, but especially to worship. The modern notion of worship evidenced all around us seems skewed. Presently it looks as if we moderns strut about before God and demand he pay homage to us. At heart we seem to think that God’s chief end is to glorify us, and enjoy us forever. But there is a better and more fitting way.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4.10). These words help to put everything into proper perspective with regard to Christian worship. Even the rock group, U2, says, “If you wanna kiss the sky, you gotta learn how to kneel.” That’s the God-designed pattern of Christian living, and even more, the God-formulated model of Christian worship. This pattern of humbling ourselves before God and him exalting us runs throughout our whole order of worship.

For example, in our worship at Heritage Presbyterian Church, you will notice this pattern in the following ways:

  • Call to Worship and Hymns: We humbly wait for the Lord to call us into worship, and then respond to his upward invitation with thoughtful songs that celebrate his worth, sovereignty, faithfulness, holiness, and salvation.
  • Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon: We confess our sins, humbling ourselves before God both emotionally and physically by kneeling. Then after hearing the assuring words of God’s pardon, we are called upon to lift up our hearts and souls unto the Lord.
  • Scripture and Sacrament: We gather to hear God speak to us, humbly submitting to his Word being read and declared, and then in Gospel-rich hope we are raised up and invited to gather at his Son’s table to dine and be filled by his Spirit.
  • Prayer and Benediction: We surrender ourselves to the timing and wisdom of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer, asking him to be with us; imploring his mercy and help for ourselves, the Church, our nation, world, families and friends. And finally, we are called upon to stand up and receive the Lord’s blessing at the end of the assembly.
All of our worship at should follow this biblical pattern of the glad humbling of ourselves before the Lord; and anticipating his lifting us up. Here is where God’s grace and strength and help and hope can be found, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4.6). 


(The original post of 19 June 2012 has been revamped, rewritten and now re-posted as of 29 August 2016. MWP)


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