Words that Produce Worship

John Piper released a book today on what might be categorized as rhetoric and its relation to piety: Seeing Beauty and Saying BeautifullyOne observation he made based on his own experience struck a chord with me. I can recall similar moments in my own life, where, as he puts it, “The effort to put a glimpse of glory into striking or moving words made the glimpse grow.”

This put into words what I have found to be true for decades. The effort to put the truth of God, and all his ways and works, into fresh language—something that may have never been spoken before—is a way of coming near to God, because of seeing and feeling more suitably. “While I use [that is while I make poetic effort], I am with Thee.”

Herbert confirmed for me in his experience what has been an indispensable part of my preaching and writing. I don’t mean just the writing of poems but also the writing of sermons and books and letters and most anything else that matters. Every sermon was an opportunity not just to say but to see and savor. Every effort to speak the wonders of the Word of God became a fresh seeing and a fresh savoring. The pressure to prepare a fresh word from God week by week was one of the greatest gifts of my life. The effort to say beautifully was a way of seeing beauty. The effort to put a glimpse of glory into striking or moving words made the glimpse grow. The effort to find worthy words for Christ opened to me more fully the worth of Christ. (39)