One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
How do you love God? Seriously, How do you love God?
- What do you do?
- Where do you feel closest to God?
- What do you not do?
- When do you feel closest to God?
Our relationship with God can be analogous to many things. A child to a parent. A servant to a king. But one of the purest ways God has given us to understand is the first institution on earth – marriage. His desire for us is to be intimate with him over the long haul. He’s not looking for a casual fling and he’s not out dating around to see who’s available. God is in the process of a long courtship with us.
And in just the same way that we relate to each other differently or have different temperaments, so we relate to God differently. Specifically, we each tend to have a “cruise control” or “comfort zone.” God, in his infinite wisdom, designed each of us to be different. We’re not all the same. We each relate differently. That you relate to God differently than I (so long as it isn’t contrary to Scripture) is not a problem, it’s a blessing. Bless God for the variety!
Disclaimer: Before we get too far into this, I need to lay this out there…being “wired” a particular way is not an excuse for deficiency. Nor does it excuse behavior. God has called us to be formed into the image of Christ. We’re all spiritually handicapped and God is working on, in, and through us to heal us and set us free. There…I said it.
Throughout history, we see different people worshiping differently. Noah built an ark out of obedience. Abel offered the best of the flock. Abraham built altars. Isaac meditated in the fields. Jacob wrestled with God until he was blessed and given the name Israel. Israel, near the end of his life, leaned on his staff and worshiped. Joseph interpreted dreams and testified of God’s power and divine plan. Moses led, shepherded, and interceded. Jeremiah wept. David danced and sang and conquered. Solomon built and taught. Josiah tore down the altars of idols. Malachi prophesied. Ezra taught the children of exile how to worship. Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem. Daniel repented for the sins of a nation, interceded and prophesied. John told of the Light that had come into the world.
God has called each of us to walk in relationship with him. I’m particularly drawn to the different ways we (all of us) love God for a couple of reasons:
- The great variety helps reveal the depth and mystery of the Sovereign of the universe
- We have to rely on God’s grace, provision, and strength in the areas we’re not strong
Throughout history and Scripture, there are nine main ways people express their relationship with God. As we go through these, where do you find yourself?
We’re not talking about the philosophy here. We’re talking about people who are most aware of God when they’re out under the sky, in the fields, climbing mountains, watching birds. Simply feeling the breeze reminds them of God’s great love for them.
Beautiful art, engaging music, and exotic scents and flavors are just the beginning. Walking through a museum, a sensate may see God in every painting, every sculpture, or in a display on ancient Egypt.
I prefer the term “Liturgists”. The beauty of a consistent ritual and the use of sacraments put traditionalists in their element – connected with God and with their spiritual heritage.
This is an often-misunderstood preference. The ascetic doesn’t dislike “stuff” or intend to make his or her life hard by avoiding pleasures. Rather, they love God by removing anything that might cause them to be drawn aside from their relationship with him. Fasting and prayer are not disciplines, but gifts of love and special places of communion.
Speaking truth and confronting sin and lies get the activist fired up. They love the holiness and purity and righteousness of God and are unwilling to allow anything less than the truth prevail. They so love those caught in lies and oppression they simply must move to set them free.
Some believers actually gain spiritual and emotional strength by helping those in need. They see Christ “in the least of these” and consider it a privilege to take care of their needs.
The spiritual life is an exciting adventure. It’s an opportunity to wait with bated breath for the next mystery of God to be revealed. It’s a life of celebration – dancing, singing, shouting, laughing.
To sit at the feet of Christ and adore is all that the contemplative asks. The desire is nothing more than to love God with the deepest, purest love possible.
Loving God with the whole mind requires study. The intellectual worshiper enjoys rightly dividing scripture, the discussion of doctrine, and the shadings of meaning contained in the more ancient renderings of Scripture.
These categories may seem a bit arbitrary. And, honestly, worshiping God is much more organic and connected, much more fluid than a simple delineation of worship styles. However, understanding our preferred worship style may help us understand more about our relationship with God and with others.
Is any one of these worship styles unimportant?
Is it healthy to practice one style to the exclusion of the others?
Is it healthy to completely avoid one that you don’t enjoy?
Is it wise to avoid your comfort zone to force yourself into other styles?