When We Assemble (2)….We Love God

When we assemble, we love God.

Or, more to the point I want to make, when we assemble, we love on God. 

There are many ways to make this point. We could look at the Psalms where we have example after example of expressed love for God through prayer, praise and assembly. For example, Psalm 116 is the grateful praise of one who has been delivered from death and the Psalmist responds to God “in the presence of all his people.” In the midst of the assembly, the Psalmist declares, “I love the Lord!” Laurie Klein’s lyrics connect us in a contemporary way with the loving practices of the Psalmists:

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear

Or, we could note  how loving God is understood in Deuteronomy where the call to “love the Lord your God” is first announced in chapter 6. Israel is called to love God by embracing the path to life that God has outlined for them. As part of that, when Israel gathered to celebrate the festivals, they loved God through praise and thanksgiving.

Or, we could think about how loving God is unpacked in the Johannine literature. Not only do we love God when we love our neighbor (as per 1 John 4:20-21), we also love God whenever we submit to God in obedience. We love God when we worship him, which includes assembly.

But, I think, one Lukan narrative is particularly illuminating (Luke 7:36-50). Burdened by a deep conviction of sin and moved by a love for the one who loved her, the “sinner” brought a gift to Jesus, fell at his feet and loved him by gently and tenderly kissing and anointing Jesus’ feet.  This is a narratival picture of worship where kneeling and kissing are the root actions which express the attitude of one of the Greek terms for “worship”  (proskuneo). Her act, in the words of Jesus, are acts of love. She loved Jesus.

Loving God–loving God as a community in assembly–is, in part, prostrating ourselves before the Triune God and kissing God.  This involves at least two ideas.  It is, on the one hand, a humble expression of love. We recognize God’s transcendence, holiness and glory. We praise, honor and fear God.  On the other hand, it is an act of intimacy, a kind of “kiss’ whereby we express our love for God. We adore, cherish and treasure God. We experience God’s presence among us,  participate in the love of the Father, Son and Spirit and delight in the relationship.

There is a danger, however, in approaching assembly from this direction. When loving God is reduced to obedience to a set of commandments, and obedience is reduced to a “check-list” mentality, then assembly becomes legal duty rather than an initmate, holy encounter.  While few, if any, would sanction such a reductionism, it seems to be where religious folk tend to land within their traditions. When assembly equals a prescribed set of liturgical actions for the sake of obedience, assembly is reduced to mere ritual or a mechanistic manipulation toward divine approval. This sucks the heart out of worship.

The asembled people of God, as a community, delight in God as they declare God’s praise and honor, bear witness to God’s mighty acts of salvation and set God on the highest place in our lives–both personally and communally.  This is loving on our God.

When we assemble, we love God.

In the words of Dennis Jernigan:

We will worship the Lamb of glory
We will worship the King of kings
We will worship the Lamb of glory
We will worship the King

And with our hands lifted high,
We come before You and sing
With our hands lifted high,
We come before You rejoicing.
With our hands lifted high
To the sky
And the world wonders why

We’ll just tell them we’re loving the King…Oh
We’ll just tell them we’re loving the King

6 Responses to “When We Assemble (2)….We Love God”

  1.   Jerry Starling Says:

    John Mark,
    In this post you capture the essence of what worship is – and what it is, is sadly missing in many of our assemblies as we go through “the five acts (or avenues, if you prefer) of worship with scarcely a thought for the one whom we are there to adore. May we all learn – and repent before Him who is, Who was, and Who is to come!

    Jerry Starling

  2.   rich constant Says:

    john mark
    regarding New Covenant Assembly of Believers,a question begs an answer,which seems to go unspoken. in ROM.6:11-15 contextually,chap’s. 6,7,to the answered question of rom.7:24 ending with the condition that is set up in rom.8:1.
    this seems to be clarified with the addition,of eph.5:6 and reiterated by Paul in col.3 with the hinge word nullified in eph:2:15.which is a must have word a conditional legal term used i feel in the Blood convent relationship with the trinity’s promise of life through faithfulness and the high christology placed on sanctification and Holiness that Paul excersies in 1ST COR.5. AND THEN EXCIRSIZES MERCY IN THE APPLICATION OF THE MEAL mode and manner?
    how if teachers are to be held to a higher standard of judgement.
    How does grace as taught with out the christocrintic application of faithfulness by elders. who do not seem engage sin in the body without “personal contact other than a hi how are ya this morning relationship.

    tn Or “rendered inoperative.” This is a difficult text to translate because it is not easy to find an English term which communicates well the essence of the author’s meaning, especially since legal terminology is involved. Many other translations use the term “abolish” (so NRSV, NASB, NIV), but this term implies complete destruction which is not the author’s meaning here. The verb καταργέω (katargew) can readily have the meaning “to cause someth. to lose its power or effectiveness” (BDAG 525 s.v. 2, where this passage is listed), and this meaning fits quite naturally here within the author’s legal mindset. A proper English term which communicates this well is “nullify” since this word carries the denotation of “making something legally null and void.” This is not, however, a common English word. An alternate term like “rendered inoperative [or ineffective]” is also accurate but fairly inelegant. For this reason, the translation retains the term “nullify”; it is the best choice of the available options, despite its problems.

  3.   rich constant Says:

    in other words does a forensic application of righteous faith “the bar is set so high”keep us all separated and guilty and exasperated so as to keep personal relationship and our dysfunction hidden and thwart the healing process by a loving faithful father who would have us a joyous body of believers which are not made righteous by works of law but by the act of the trinity to remove the burden of sin and death by the honor code of doing GODS good to the saving of the body?

    i know but i don’t like to write hopefully YOU get my drift big guy…RICH

  4.   rich Says:

    and then the effect of the application of righteous attitudes hearing the words of exhortation in 1cor.seen in repentive faithfulness 2cor.

  5.   rich constant Says:

    the side effect of improper love 2cor 2:11

  6.   David Wanjala Says:

    Greetings in Jesus Name and how are you.
    Having followed your teachings closely and keenly and with the help of the Holy Spirit I am persuaded that you are a prophet of the most high God. I have therefore prayerfully considered requesting that we may have intimate ministry relationship as you can be used of God for my spiritual empowerment and ministry establishment. God bless you, your family and ministry.
    Yours at Christ’s service
    Bishop David Wanjala Wanyama.

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