The Wonder of Wonder
“And [Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:3 NIV)
True worship involves wonder… The trouble is that wonder is a rare ingredient. You don’t often find it in most modern worship services. After all, what is there to wonder about? Why should there be any mystery in the worship experience of the average congregation? We know all about God, because we read our study Bibles and take notes on the sermons we hear. We read books; we listen to sermons… we attend seminars where experts explain what God and the Christian life are all about. We have outlined the Bible, analyzed and defined God’s attributes, and charted the ages. What is there to elicit our wonder? ...
The church today is imperiled by what it thinks it understands. Most preaching focuses on explaining something and neglects to admit the things that can’t be explained… We’re no longer struck by the wonder and mystery of God and His revelation of grace. We’ve contrived descriptions and definitions for everything theological, as well as approved the pigeonholes assigned for each item. Everything is organized but nothing is wonderful anymore.
This isn’t to suggest that we put our minds in neutral when we participate in Christian worship. But it does mean that we must admit our ignorance and learn to accept the many things we can’t understand and to appreciate the things we can’t explain. A leading modern theologian, T.F. Torrance, states it perfectly: “Worship is the exercise of the mind in the contemplation of God in which wonder and awe play an important part in stretching and enlarging our vision, or in opening up our conceptual forms to take in that which by its nature far outruns them” (T.F. Torrance, God and Rationality, quoted in Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life, New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Perhaps this is one lesson Jesus had in mind when He told his disciples to become like little children. A child’s life is filled with wonder, and this sense of wonder enables him or her to see things in life that escape the rest of us. Our young grandchildren can stare at a flower or an insect with an imaginative interest that I hope will never be lost. Alas, tests show that a child’s creativity—which includes imagination and wonder—diminishes by 90 percent between ages five and seven! When adults get to be forty, they have about 2 percent of the creativity they had when they were five years old. No wonder the children sang to Jesus in the temple while the theologically trained adults tried to silence them.
-Warren Wiersbe (excerpted and adapted from Real Worship)
Christianity is supernatural. It is about God in the flesh. It is about the wonder-working power of the blood of Jesus, which paid the debt of our sin. It is about a Savior who died and rose again. It is about the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to live in us, produce fruit in us, guide us, teach us, convict the world of sin. If the concept of the miraculous is lost to Christianity, it is no longer Christianity, according to the Bible.