From Dung to Worship
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ ~ Philippians 3:8 (NASB)
Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ ~ Philippians 3:8 (KJV)
I have posted two translations of the same verse because each has a certain language that I would like to take advantage of in this post. I was recently asked to provide some proof verses for what worship is all about. There is so much wealth in the scriptures about that subject that there is no way that I could do justice in a short post on the topic but grant me a little leeway as I dump some thoughts about worship.
Worship comes from the older word form ‘Worthship’. We know from our earliest school days that the ‘ship’ at the ending of the word means ‘to have’. Just as relationship means to have relations with someone, worthship means to recognize that something or someone HAS worth or value.
To truly recognize the full worth or value of something a deep knowledge of that thing or person must be built or understood. Think about all the stories you have heard of someone finding a priceless piece of art in a garage sale for some small nominal amount of money that is worth a large magnitude more than what they purchased it for. The person who sold the piece in the garage sale lacked the knowledge to understand the value of the thing they were selling, otherwise, they would have never sold it for a penance.
The Hebrew and Greek words that are most often translated to worship in the bible are ‘shachah‘ in Hebrew (I think of Shock and Awe) which means to bow down. The word in Greek is ‘proskyneo‘ (I think Prostrate Knee) which means to kneel or prostrate in homage.
As you can see, there is a physical manifestation that is correlated to the act of worship thus worship takes some form of action on the part of the individual recognizing the value in the thing or person to be worshiped. The Hebrew and Greek words above show an action rooted in humbleness. I believe this is because there is a recognition of not only the great and immense value of the thing or person to be worshiped but, also, the lowly and diminished value of the person worshiping.
When you read Paul’s words as recorded in the letter to the Philippians, you will notice that he highlights those value systems in strict contrast. Everything that he was or had took on the value of dung in the light of the surpassing value that the knowledge of Christ exposed.
And what forms of actionable worship did Paul’s knowledge lead him to?
- It says he counted all things loss, that he assigned them the value of offal or dung. He took time to measure the value of every earthly thing that he could lay claim to and assigned to them their correct value in light of the glories of Christ. In other words, he reset his life success meter to that which reflected the truest measure – he surrendered all to Christ.
- This measuring did not come without some cost, however, because we see Paul use the word ‘suffered’ in the casting away of these things that no longer held value to him. Worship can be found in the action of suffering that is attached to surrendering.
- BUT, finally, we see that his final act of worship is in GAINING or WINNING Christ. Don’t miss the importance of this statement. We can worship in the simple act of having Christ.
Maybe that last point is hard to grasp, so imagine a man walking down the road with shackles on both his hands and feet. While he is able to move, he still values the idea of being free from the bondage that holds him because he recognizes the weight of the chains that hold him in check. On his way he meets a man that holds the key to his chains and the man is kind enough to unlock the shackles. A bystander may witness two simultaneous emotions in the man being freed; that joy for having the chains removed and no longer having that weight on him AND the greater joy of knowing freedom for what it is truly is. There is worship in the loss and there is worship in the gain.. the greater being in the gain.