Worship: It is Good for You!
“Researchers Study Awe and Find It Is Good For You.” This recent article in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention, given the fact that we are often invited in Scripture to be in “awe” of God. Psalm 29:2 says “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” Hebrews 12:28 adds, “Let us offer acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
Researchers have discovered that there is a cause and effect relationship between regularly experiencing the feeling of “awe” and how we view ourselves and others. Through a series of studies, it was observed that those who experience the emotion of “awe” were more empathetic, trusting, generous and humble than those who did not. Dr. Paul Piff from UC Irvine observed that “awe minimizes our individual identity and attunes us to things bigger than ourselves.”
Granted, this study was not relegated to religious expressions of awe. Elizabeth Bernstein says that “awe is an emotional response to something vast, and it challenges and expands our way of seeing the world. It might be triggered by an encounter with nature, a religious experience, a concert, or a political rally or sports event. We are not likely to find it on the treadmill at the gym.”
Knowing what we know from Scripture, this study does not surprise us one bit. Rather, it confirms what we see throughout the pages of Scripture and what we have experienced through our regular worship of God. Consider a few examples from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
You see the humbling effect of the majesty of God in Psalm 8. After David says, “Oh LORD, our LORD how majestic is your name in all the earth,” he quickly follows it with the humble admission, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” When Isaiah sees the vision of God in Isaiah 6, with humility he too cries out, “Woe is me.” Proverbs tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD. And of course, Micah asks the question, “What does the LORD require of you?” His answer is, “to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Justice and kindness are the fruit of being in awe of God.
The evidence from the New Testament is just as strong. John the Baptist captured the impact of worship in that simple statement about Jesus, “he must increase and I must decrease.” James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord,” suggesting that this is the secret to how we see and treat others. And of course, the great commandment to love God and love others has a sequential flow to it. Our love for God becomes the source of our love for others.
So what does this study suggest to us? It tells us that the worship of God is good for us. It encourages us to regularly be in “awe” of God. This is the reason we gather weekly for worship and for regularly allowing the Word of God to dwell in us richly. The worship of God keeps us humble and causes us to be gracious and kind to others.
May you have regular experiences of being in awe of God! It is good for you!
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