Worship Ought To Kill Us

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  • When I bought, Marva J. Dawn’s book on worship, Reaching Out without Dumbing down, I jumped to chapter 9 to read it first, because of its provocative title: “Worship Ought to Kill Us: The Word.” When I finished that chapter, it took me some time to get back to the book. I needed to pull myself together. As startling as this statement sounds, it really is an understatement. (By the way, we live in a day when we need truth stated in startling ways to get us to pay attention to divine realities that we have become too familiar with.) The goal of worship is not to help us live better lives. Worship ought to kill us. That is, it ought to slay our selfishness, pride, and rebellion and bring us to end of ourselves so that we can truly experience life in God. Dawn says it better than I can:

    “In a society doing all it can to make people cozy, somehow we must convey the truth that God’s Word, rightly read and heard, will shake us up. It will kill us, for God cannot bear our sin and wants to put to death our self-centeredness. The apostle Paul exclaims that he has been “crucified with Christ” and therefore that it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives in him (Gal. 2:19-20). Once worship kills us, we are born anew to worship God rightly.” (pp. 205-06)


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.