What is Worship?
Worship. It’s that thing we do on Sunday morning, from 11:00 until as close to noon as the preacher can possibly make it right? Maybe it’s even from 10:00 until noon if we go to Sunday School. No, wait…worship isn’t that! It’s the couple of songs we sing after the announcements and before the sermon; it’s the part of Sunday we call “Praise and worship.” Yeah, that’s it!
Well, what is it then?
Worship, in my humble estimation, is who were are, why we exist, and why we were created in the first place. Worship is NOT an event, or a happening; it is not something that has a start or a finish, or that only occurs for a set time each week in our busy lives. Worship IS our lives, and it defines who we are…or who we are not. That’s a lot of territory, isn’t it? Perhaps we can break it down some and it will make sense! Let’s define it quickly:
Worship-noun- the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity
Worship-verb-Show reverence and adoration for a deity
Hmm..worship then, is both something we feel, and something we show.
As we take this brief journey, we will look at some areas: Why do we worship God? What’s worship mean for us? How might we make our lives and act of worship? We may find more, but those are a great start!
It’s fairly easy to lay out from God’s word just why we worship Him. He has told us fairly clearly in His Word.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God made us, and He made all of this. Not only is that pretty amazing, but it gives Him some rather large prerogatives. A question I have seen asked all over the Blogosphere lately is: Why? God wasn’t lonely; God needs nothing, as He lacks nothing. God is self existent. So…why us? He explains that fairly well also:
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Isaiah 43:21.22 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
So, we can see God created us, and He also created us primarily for His honor, glory, and pleasure. That seems rather a hard pill to swallow doesn’t it? From our human sensibilities, a God who created us for no more reason than His own glorification and pleasure seems…not appealing to our sensibilities. Perhaps because we actually really like our own glorification and pleasure? But, that is another post entirely I suppose!
I do want to take a look at the word “pleasure.” I heard this described by a non believer in these terms, “Oh, so God created us for entertainment?”. Well, no. Pleasure and entertainment are not synonyms. What might God’s pleasure mean?
God is Love, and God desires relationship.
Note the word “desires.” God needs nothing, as God is self existent. If God desires a thing, it is not because He needs it to complete Himself, but because it brings Him pleasure. Let’s not get too deep theologically here, this thought is complex beyond measure, but yet so simple a child can get it. Because the idea that a self existent being might desire something seems to imply a lack of some sort. Let us remember that God has many attributes. God is self existent; God is love. How can those co exist? Well, I don’t know that, and neither do you. We know, however because He reveals these things to us through His Word. We don’t and can’t understand, because understanding a completely “omni” God is beyond the reach of any finite, “not omni” being.
So, we may not get this, but it is so. God loves, and God desires relationship. That is inherent in the concept and very definition of love.
Do we see this in the narrative of God’s Word? The Bible is packed literally from beginning to end with illustrations of how God loves us and wants us to be joy filled. We can see this from the Book of Genesis when God walked in the Garden of Eden every day with Adam and Eve to the Book of Revelation where God restores everything in the New Heaven and Earth and we dwell in His presence forever. The Book of Psalms is full of King David rejoicing and being happy in the Lord. How much did God love us? John 3:16 teaches us God loved the World so much He gave His only Son to us, so that if we believe, we can have everlasting life. 1 John 4 and 5 contain the famous words “God is Love.” Those chapters go on to give perhaps the greatest description of the relationship between God’s love for us, our love for others and the keeping of His commandments in all of the Bible.
God loves us. He loves us in the here and now, and wants a relationship with us every day. He also desires a relationship with us for all eternity. Both of these explain why God sacrificed His only Son, literally Himself, on the Cross of Calvary for the sole purpose of restoring the relationship we had fractured through our sin.
It is the building of this relationship in our lives every day, with our Lord Jesus Christ which is the cornerstone of worship as a way of life.
Here, our noun and our verb roll up together and put on feet and march into action. We feel reverence and adoration for our God because He showed that to us, 1 John 4:19 teaches us that We love him, because he first loved us. How then, do we show our love and adoration? We aren’t taking some trip into legalism here, but God clearly teaches us that we are to live certain ways which take our feelings for Him and put them into action. We worship by transferring our feelings into a lifestyle. Let’s look at some Biblical thoughts on this matter:
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Not only is relationship with God our proper worship, but relationship with each other is. After all, loving each other is second only in importance to loving God Himself.
Matthew 22:27-30 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
So, what is worship to me?
Well, it’s not just Sunday morning; it’s not just my church building, and it’s not even just being with the body of believers I love so dearly. Of course, worship as an corporate event is certainly valid, and quite Biblical. Worship, however, does not cease when I leave that happening, and it starts long before I arrive there. In fact, worship never stops and never ends. Worship should be who I am; it should be the very thing which defines me.
It begins with my understanding that my God is worthy of my worship, love, and adoration. It is honed by my following His desire that I have a relationship with Him. Finally, it is fine tuned by my daily focus on Him, and what His desires for my life and my lifestyle are.