The Avengers features a confrontation between Captain America and Tony Stark (Iron Man) where Cap calls Tony out:
Cap: Big man in a metal suit. Take that away and what are you?
Tony: Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.
But the question almost seems to form the basis of the plot of Iron Man 3. Without getting too much into spoiler territory (and without too much fear, since you’ve probably seen it if you’re interested at all), the basic theme is Tony Stark discovering the answer to Cap’s question.
Does the suit make the man, or does the man make the suit?
A few weeks ago, our church worship team was practicing the setlist before the service, and we got to a point where we were practicing worship instead of simply preparing the musical performance. When we finished, we came together for a moment of prayer. One of our awesome guitar players named Jordan shared a picture based on Iron Man 3.
In the movie, Tony comes to realize that it’s not the suit that matters; it’s his internal drive, his passion, his ability to think about problems, and so on. All the special stuff that makes Iron Man a hero is found inside Tony Stark. The armor may change, but it’s secondary to the character of the individual within.
Jordan reminded us of the various forms and structures worship has gone through over the years, from the time of the priestly ministry at the Tabernacle, and all the special pieces made to surround the Ark… to the time of David’s Tabernacle with its constant worship, where the psalmist King went so far as to invent new instruments to praise God… and historical moves in the church, with liturgy and chanting, then organ music, then contemporary bands… to hooking up computers with programmed arrangements that create a completely different musical dynamic…
Worship equipment and paraphernalia have changed and will continue to change. But the ultimate essential piece of “equipment” necessary for worship has always been and will continue to be a willing and humble heart passionate for the glory of God.
Big band on stage with the lights and all the instruments. Take it all away, and what are you?
That thought has stuck with me for a bit now, bouncing around in my head. I like it because it marries what we do as musicians – all the technical figuring out chords and rhythms and arrangements – with what we do as worshipers – the heart crying out to God to show Himself strong in our midst. Often these are thought of as being in opposition, but they’re really two sides of the same coin.
Or two sides of the worship triangle. You may remember the concept of the “fire triangle,” which shows the three parts of a fire that are necessary for the fire to burn:
Fuel – something has to be there to burn
Heat – it has to be hot enough for the fire to keep burning
Oxygen – the chemical reaction requires oxygen to take place
Take one out, and the fire dies.
Over the next few posts, I’m going to look at 2nd Samuel 6 as a source text, and I’m going to post about what I see as a worship triangle:
Musical excellence – the structure and arrangement of fuel for the fire
Heart excellence – putting ourselves in the right attitude to pursue God
The Spirit – the wind, the air, the “oxygen” required for the spiritual reaction
Take one out and the worship fails.