It does not seem very comfortable to put one’s nostrils in the dirt. To picture the imagery of what that must look like is not very pretty to my visual perception. Why on earth would anyone want to place his or her nostrils into the dirt in the first place? What if I told you that the OT reference to the term worship literally means, “nostrils in the dirt?” What kind of picture is now painted in your mind? What is the significance of placing one’s nostrils in the dirt have to do with worship? Is there any significance at all? In fact, there is:
In the metanarrative of the Bible, we read in the creation story that man was made from dirt. He was fashioned as a ‘dirt sculpture’ with no life and no breathe. That was until God did a very interesting thing: God ‘breathed into man’s nostrils and he (man) became a living being.’ That is a little freaky. The Jewish scholars realize the significance of God breathing into the nostrils of man, to create man as a living being, that the most meaningful display of thankfulness for all God has done, is to place their ‘nostrils in the dirt.’ This goes all the way back to Adam before God had breathed life into man. The basic statement one makes when they place their nostrils into the dirt is, “Without you God, I would be a mound of dirt with no life and no breathe. When you breathed into my nostrils the breath of life, I became a living being, created to worship you. You are my only reason that I breathe.” That is astounding to me. It is quite simply amazing.
Today, worship has been seen in a different light. The songs that are sung in most churches are, to say the least, man centered. Oftentimes, the songs we sing in our churches are focused more on us as the body of Christ rather than on Christ, Himself. We have lifted our nostrils out of the dirt. We have many times forgotten who we were outside of Christ (a heap of mud) and who we now are in Christ (a new creation – living, breathing creation.)
It is humbling to put your nostrils in the dirt. It is an acknowledgment of God’s love for us and His continued mercy and grace upon our lives. The least we can do is put our nostrils in the dirt every once in a while and give God the glory. The smell might not be so great and the taste might make you puke, but without the breath of God in us, that is what we really are – nasty filthy dirt.
It is Christ that gives us value; Christ, He gives us worth. We are like dollar bills (perhaps a crude analogy but we will work with it nonetheless). The large amount of money you possess in your wallet or bank account (or perhaps like myself the lack there of) is really on pieces of green paper with ink and dead presidents printed on it. It really has no value outside of the cost of making the paper to be printed. It really is no different than going to wall-mart or some store and getting some construction paper (green if you would like) and cutting it to the size of a dollar bill and saying that the two are the same – which in some respects they are. I cannot however take that construction paper dollar or the money from Monopoly to the store and buy something with it because it has no value. The reason why the dollar bill you hold in your hands or that is held in a wallet or purse has value is because people in government said that this certain dollar bill will be give a value to buy things and to earn. It is considered a legal tenure – a capital investment.
In some ways, if God had not breathed in us the breath of life, we would be no better off than that piece of construction paper we cut out ourselves. There is no value to it – it is just play money. But when God breathed into us the breath of life, we became something different. We now were given value; given worth.
I do not know if we have truly consider the significance of worship in this manner. It is not the only aspect of worship – there are many. This is one that goes all the way back to Adam though. This is the first act of worship that goes beyond any other form of worship in the Scriptures or in tradition. Perhaps we would do good to place our nostrils in the dirt every once in a while. That’s the challenge. It is not easy but it is the least we can do after all. God bless