Not long ago I rode my bike past Nueva Vida (New Life), the Spanish/English bilingual church about a block from our house, and I noticed the fine print on the sign: “Servicio de Adoracion 10:30.” My mind automatically translated. “Adoration Service.”
They are synonyms, “adoration” and “worship,” and each has the other word in its definition, but “worship” has come to mean little more than “a time of corporate singing.” We rarely say, “We are WORSHIPPING God.” We say, “Now it’s worship time,” or we critique it: “Worship was good/bad/a little off today.” The word has lost its punch. It has been demoted.
It shakes up my idea of church services to think of them as times of “adoration.”
Just the other day I listened to a podcast by John Piper on the supremacy of Christ, and he challenged his listeners. “Don’t just see yourself as Christ ‘followers,'” he said. (I’m paraphrasing.) “You can ‘follow’ anybody. Christ is more than a leader; He’s more than a good teacher. He’s GOD!”
And our proper response is WORSHIP.
Or, if that phrase has become too worn out or mangled for you, ADORATION.
“Jesus, I adore You. Lay my life before You. How I love You.”
I remember singing that song with several Argentine women as we washed dishes in a tiny church kitchen following a community meal. I was there on a two-week mission trip. One of the ladies, Alma, had this expression on her face that drew me out of any contemplation of myself. She really sang that song. Her hands were covered in chicken grease and soap bubbles, her body was firmly planted on feet flattened by age and a hard life, but her soul was somewhere else. She was adoring Jesus, and her face showed it.
In the writing class I take each week, we talk about what makes characters attractive, what makes readers “fall in love” with them. One of the most effective techniques, I think, is when that character is loved by someone else in the novel. If I like a certain character, and that character loves another, then chances are I am drawn to that loved person as well. This can be true even with despicable characters. Every time I’ve watched the musical Oliver, I’ve thought, “There has to be something good about Bill Sykes because wonderful Nancy loves him so much.”
We don’t have that issue with Jesus. He IS loving. He IS good. He IS kind. He IS worthy of our sincere adoration, or–to borrow from dictionary.com–“fervent and devoted love.” So shouldn’t we be able to love Him like that? And shouldn’t our love cause others to fall in love with Him, too?
Quite a few young believers or nonbelievers watch or know me in some up-close-and-personal ways: my children, Jane, Nina, my students, even a couple friends from writing class. What a thrill it would be if they could truly say, “There’s got to be something to this Jesus, because Jen sure loves him.”
Jesus, I want to adore you.