Scattering to Worship

Scripture casts the whole range of human behavior in terms of worship.  Humanity is in the Creator God’s image, so their relating, their spreading over the whole earth, their overseeing creation’s flourishing, their exploring creation’s beauties, their creating and enjoying new aspects of culture—any of these and all of these constituted their worship of the one true God.  Worship was not a separate or distinct activity that was reserved for a special day. 

At the fall, humanity’s worship was perverted so that all of this was done to image something else or someone else. 

Salvation, then, is about the recovery of the full range of human relating, imagining, and behaving—a holistic recovery of human worship.

“Worship,” then, does not refer primarily to the activity of the gathered people of God.  It’s not necessarily inappropriate to use worship language to speak of what we do when we gather as church.

But “worship” is what happens when the people of God scatter, when we carry out all sorts of other activities—our service to others, our exploring God’s good world, our playing games, our listening and speaking, our resting, our working to produce, our bringing order to chaotic situations.

God’s aims in Christ are holistic and totalizing; God intends to reclaim the whole of our lives to remake us into holistic worshipers whose entire lives are worship.

Since that’s the case, how might we re-frame our language to more faithfully and fruitfully represent what we do when we gather and when we scatter?

4 thoughts on “Scattering to Worship

  1. S Wu

    So true, Tim. Image-bearing is about worship, which is simultaneously our vocation. It all makes sense if we view God’s purposes holistically.

  2. jonathan mcgill

    Would you see any connection between the sacraments practiced ‘when we gather’ and the sacramentalism of every-day living you describe as ‘when we scatter’? If all of life lived as restored image bearers is worship, then all of life lived as worship is life lived ‘in Christ.’ And it is particularly when we gather for holy communion that we re-orient ourselves together to this great mystery. So, it’s in the liturgical practices of our gatherings that we are corporately energized to ‘worship’ when we scatter.

    1. timgombis

      Exactly, Jon, that’s precisely how I’d say it. “Gathering” is for the purposes of getting our bearings, orienting ourselves to the truth, reminding ourselves of our identity and mission, equipping ourselves to scatter and worship, etc. I wouldn’t want to downplay the sacramental aspects of what we do when we gather, but I’d also then want to use the same vocabulary to describe what we participate in throughout the week–fruitful and life-giving conversations, deeds of service, etc.

      And I wouldn’t want this to sound like anti-institutionalized religion or anything. Just that they go together.

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