When I taught at Talbot School of Theology there was a student on campus who was seven feet six inches tall. I felt sorry for him, because people would stare, i.e. until he looked back. They probably didn’t want to, but they could hardly keep themselves from doing so. I found myself sneaking glances at him. Most strangers said nothing to him other than an occasional, “How is the weather up there?” Everyone thought, “That man is really tall!” That is the natural response to attributes that are unusual or outstanding, which is the essence of worship.

            Worship is ascribing to God His divine attributes. God doesn’t need us to tell Him who He is. He is completely secure within His own Godhead. Nor do we worship God to appease Him. Some believe that if they keep telling God how good He is, He won’t deal harshly with them, or will grant them favors. That is spiritism, and that is not why we worship. We worship God, because we need to keep fresh in our minds the divine attributes of God. You will never be alone if you know that God is omnipresent. You will never feel powerless if you know that God is omnipotent. You will never feel unloved if you know that God is love.

            Suppose you saw the student mentioned above, but he was a mile away. He would appear to be similar to any other mortal, and seeing him from a distance would solicit very little response. If you were standing next to him, you would be in awe. Your natural inclination would be to say or think, “Man, you are really tall!” The dominant thought in your mind would be on that singular attribute. Such is our relationship with God. If you are not practicing His presence, He would seem to be a distant figure, and not too large. He would be easy to ignore. But if you were ushered into His presence you would be overwhelmed by His attributes. If that happened you wouldn’t say, “Praise You.” You would say, “Holy, beautiful, wonderful, powerful, etc.” Nobody would have to tell you to do that. Angels are not forced to worship God. In God’s presence they naturally proclaim His divine attributes.

When I first saw a giant redwood tree in the Sequoia National Park, I stood at its base and was overwhelmed by how big it was. I wanted to tell everyone, “Look at the size of that tree. It would take more than twenty men to put their arms around it!” I don’t worship trees or people. I am naturally in awe of nature, but it is just showing forth the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). I worship God who created trees, sunsets, and rainbows. The closer I draw to my Creator, Redeemer, Savior, and Lord the more natural it is to worship Him, and share Him with others. Should I feel disconnected from Him, I recall to my mind His divine attributes and “therefore I have hope” (See Lam. 3:21-24).

Dr. Neil

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