The first act of worship involved a kid, some Crayola crayons and God. Now follow me as I walk you through this thought process.
So I was thinking about worship today/yesterday because when a five-month-old is feeling cranky and decides that the best way to spend the hours between 11pm and 5am is to see how many times he can wake up daddy, praying and worshiping becomes very necessary. At least for me.
Anyways, most scholars will say that the first act of worship in the bible comes when Cain and Abel present their offerings to the Lord in Genesis 4:3-5. Scholars also have a field day arguing over the reason why God favored Abel’s offering and not Cain’s, but I won’t get into that because I actually disagree with the initial premise. I think the first act of worship actually occurred two chapters earlier in Genesis 2:19-20
“[God brought all the animals] to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals….” Gen 2:19-20 The Message
No sacrifices. No fancy music or elaborate rituals. No altar call or call and response. Just Adam hanging out with God naming the creatures of creation.
My first thought was that this was an obedience passage. “To obey is greater than sacrifice” kind of thing, but then I read the passage more closely and realized that God never told Adam to name the animals. The Father just brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. The two of them worked together in the same way that I might one day work with my son on a giant coloring book: the end product isn’t all that important but the process of doing it is.
Because working on it builds a relationship between us. The first act of worship was one in which relationship was built. Everything that came after that – the sacrifices, the liturgy, the music – was a result of sin separating us from God and forcing us to seek new ways to build relationship. Then Christ comes and stands in the gap so we can do it the easy way again and come to the Father directly with our crayons and coloring books and say “Color?”