Faith is found in worship
The concept of faith is a broad church, mentioned in the bible somewhere between 336 and 521 times, depending on what translation you have in your hands. I have faith ‘in’ Jesus. I believe in him. I believe in the holy trinitarian community of Love that is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And the belief aspect of faith is something of a prerequisite according to Hebrews 11, and yet in the same chapter, we read about how faith is so much more than believing in God. According to the writer of Hebrews, faith is not just belief, but the very grace to believe, and the key that unlocks the reality of the Kingdom, in both the here and now, and for the not yet; the key to all of what Jesus inaugurated in his ministry, every Promise of the Father in his word and in the person of Holy Spirit, and the key for what Jesus taught us to pray, ‘on earth as it in heaven.’
And so we come to understand faith to be more than a noun, more than merely a belief in God or belief in a particular theology, but that it’s something more entirely. Faith comes alive when it is engaged, and becomes verbal, a practice within believers that allows the Kingdom of God to come, and for the church to keep going. Faith becomes a currency in the Kingdom (not that God is transactional, but rather, relational. Relationship with God is what we were made for. Faith is where it begins, communion is where it ends!) With this currency of faith, we barter with the world and all of our experiences, in exchange for trust, hope, and the miraculous. Every miracle, every sign and wonder of a good God, from a heart that is brave enough to repent and return home, to the stretched out arm of Moses that parted the sea, begins with faith.
So as the Hebrews author writes in chapter 11 and verse one, ‘Faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen,’ but between friends, there are days where that certainty is easier to hold on to than others. Faith is hard. Building ‘that’ altar as Issac looked around for the lamb his father had told him would be there, would surely have been the hardest thing Abraham would ever have done. Carrying faith for the promises of God for forty years in a wilderness, as the rest of the Israelites grumbled and moaned and pursued other gods, can’t have been easy for Moses. We even find Jesus in the garden, the night of his betrayal, wrestling with fear and faith. Faith is hard. And so we have to practice it, and contend for it and often times much too slowly, ask God for help with it, just like we see Jesus do.
‘Worship :reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power also: an act of expressing such reverence or :a form or religious practice with its creed and ritual.’ This is how Merriam-Webster defines worship, and it’s not far off. According to the scriptures however, worship is something more mysterious, . The Psalmist writes in Psalm 22 that Yahweh, the God of the Bible is “enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” Enthroned, from the Hebrew word yashab which means ‘to sit, remain, dwell.’ God makes His home in our worship. When we worship, whether by song or in prayer, in our adoration, or by following the way of Jesus, humbly loving God and our neighbours; whatever our worship looks like in a moment, the God of all hope is faithful with his presence. And with the plainest reading of the gospels we see that when Jesus came and made his home among us, everything changed. There was no room, wedding, fishing boat, well or tomb where the very presence of God in Christ Jesus, by the power of Holy Spirit didn’t bring the Kingdom of God to make all things new. In his presence, everything changes, and in our worship, he is present.
As a worship leader, and maybe even by something of design, my heart moves for worship. Not that I believe we were ‘made’ to worship him as such, rather I believe that we were created to know him. We were made for communion with our creator. But what worship does, is it changes us. In a moment, when we posture ourselves before God in worship, when we open ourselves to the reality of heaven and the reality of the God that lives, a God that has made his home in us, a God that is here even now in your reading; it is his kindness, his faithfulness and his unending love for us, that moves the creator of all things, on heaven and earth, visible and invisible, Almighty God, to take up communion with you and with me.
If faith is the key that unlocks the reality of the Kingdom, worship is the key that unlocks faith in us. Worship equates to faith. King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles, lined up his singers on the front line of a battle that they could never win, and worshipped with ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindess is everlasting,’ a famous line from that Chris Tomlin classic, ‘Forever!’ (And also the word that the Lord spoke to him before the battle!) Worship equates to faith! So as they began singing and praising, and because of their faith, God shows up and takes care of the battle. In Macedonia, in Acts 16, when Paul and Silas are imprisoned, and in stocks, the other prisoners had to put up with the two of them ‘singing hymns of praise to God.’ Worship equates to faith! And by their faith, an earthquake shakes the foundation of the prison, and ‘immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.’ You couldn’t write it!
Jesus himself provides us with the only real argument for ‘Worship equates to Faith’ that we need. In his humanity, on his knees in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of his betrayal, fighting fear and praying to his Father in heaven, ‘if it is possible may this cup be taken from me.’ And then, hands down the greatest act of worship in all of scripture, ‘nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’ And we know the rest of the story. Jesus our redeemer and friend, with faith in his Father that he would do what he said he was going to do, gave himself to death on a cross and was raised to life again on the third day. Worship equates to Faith!
If right now as you read this, or if ever you faith is little (which happens to be more than enough for God!) and you want for more faith in a moment, there is a means that is certain. Faith is found in worship!