The Worship Experience - Transcendence & Immanence
I love this scripture:
The context of this scripture is about not being too wise or too righteous – but in this scripture is an important principle. The principle that much of the Christian life is about is holding two things that seem to be contrary and somehow avoiding all extremes through fearing God. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the worship experience.
In worship we connect with both the transcendence and the immanence of God.
(In English – the God who is High and Lifted up, Glorious and Majestic, King of Kings and Lord of Lords – as well as the God who is closer than our breath, our closest friend.)
As we glorify God, as we exalt him and worship him in all his transcendence we see him as he truly is: the one who is Creator and sustainer of all things, the one who is Magnificent and Holy and so Good.
As we do this worshipping the transcendent God, our hearts open to encounter the immanent God. As we draw near to him he draws near to us. God hasn’t moved, we have moved. We have allowed the cares of life to cause us to take a few steps away from God. Worship brings us close.
I know there is no formula for our worship experience but it seems to me that if we only worship the one who is closer than a brother we risk making Jesus into just a friend with super powers. If we stay only worshipping the transcendent Jesus we risk him being so high and lifted up he seems unreachable.
Of course, our views don’t change who God is but our minds can limit who we allow him to be in our worlds. This is true of all relationships. If I believe a person to be self-centred I will read all their actions through that lens – even if it is actually untrue and they are being kind to me I will read it as self-serving. The same is true in our relationship with God; our beliefs about God will impact how we relate to him. (Hence why I am passionate about good doctrine- it impacts our whole world – just ask the man who was given one talent in the parable of the talents)
Thus, in our worship, we need to grasp one and not let go of the other. We have a Lord who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and yet is Emmanuel, God with us. How incredible is that!
This is worship that honours God and empowers our lives through encounter with his very presence. We worship our God who is transcendent and immanent – with awe and reverence (fear of the Lord) and thus avoid all extremes, and live in relationship with God as he really is.
How incredible will eternal life be when we are freed from the limitations of this life to fully understand this.