This calls for us to come to a time of worship giving of ourselves, emptying ourselves so God can fill us. “There are three things God does not have unless you give them to Him. He doesn’t have your attention unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your mind. He doesn’t have your affection, unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your heart and your soul. And God doesn’t have your ability, unless you give to Him. That’s loving God with your strength…Whenever you take the things God has given to you and give them back to God, that friends, is the heart of worship” (Warren, pp. 7 –8).
When one accepts that worship involves experience, the next step is to understand that it is also an aesthetic experience. From the online document titled, Experiencing God through the Human Aesthetic Capacity, it states “God created us to know Him. He gave us sensory capacities to meaningfully experience His spiritual reality…He made us to be ‘aesthetic’ beings. It is God’s gift to us. It engages all dimensions of human experience. It is the interaction of cognitive properties with affective meanings and values, producing a psycho-biological/psycho-physical response” (1 –2). Man’s aesthetic capacity allows the individual to realize meaning, significance and value in one’s life (2). One-way of exploring and expressing the human aesthetic capacity is through art.
Artistic input into the worship services allows individuals to focus all their senses. “Our attention is directed toward a particular artistic stimulus. There is an exchange of human life-energy” (Experiencing God, 2). Some artistic inputs are in music, plays and visual productions, poetry and dance. It allows the believer to experience worship in different ways. The individual may have an emotional reaction to an artistic input, which may invoke previous experiences. Our attention is captured as we are engrossed by the artistic input before us, which draws upon our experiences.
The purpose for us having aesthetic capacities as stated is, “Aesthetic experiences in worship can happen either in responding to art, creating art, or expressing through an art form. God made us to find meaning in our interaction with art and artistic stimuli. Our aesthetic capacity was not given primarily for enriching the human experience; it was given to us as a means by which we may interact with God himself” (Experiencing God, 3).
Therefore, aesthetic experiences alongside our faith in Christ can help us to know God better, to sense his presence and to express our love toward God. God reveals himself to us through our experiences. When the believer allows him or herself to express their experiences in worship (in a biblical way), they are in fact allowing God to direct their worship. “Before we can experience a true sense of biblical worship, we must allow God’s Word to command our behavior. This includes active participation in expressive worship” (Hayford, 144).
Barna, George, et. al. Experience God in Worship. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, Inc. 2000.
Warren, Rick. Planned for God’s Pleasure. 2002. 7 January 2007. http://webct.macu.edu.
Pmin-3303 Unit 1. Experiencing God through the Human Aesthetic Capacity. 7 January 2007. http://webct.macu.edu