what is worship?
The weight of this question is unmatched and its answer is completely crucial to a life that honors God. Worship is core to the Christian experience and is ultimately what all humans are created to do. It is the supreme purpose of human life, and our hardwiring for worship is constantly seen all around us. From sports fans to newlyweds, it is clear to see the human propensity towards worship.
With that said, the word ‘worship’ is one of the most misused words in modern Christendom. Worship has come to mean something isolated and limited, commonly synonymous with the musical portion of a church service. Music in a religious building is not necessarily worship. Worship most often has nothing to do with music at all. This is an important distinction. Making worship synonymous with music is limiting and unbiblical. The truth is that worship can and should happen frequently without music playing a role. In addition, music even music at a gathering of the church, is often not Biblical worship.
An example of this would be to say that “all cars are blue”. It is true that some cars are blue, but the blanket statement that all cars are blue is obviously false. Some cars are red, and still meet the requirements of being a car. Furthermore, the ocean, your neighbor’s house, or your jeans may be blue, but none of them require gasoline or can get you to work in the morning. Just as blue is one possibility for the color of a car, music is one possibility for the means of worship. Just because something is blue, it is not necessarily a car, nor is worship always mean a time of song.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5
Unfortunately, many people have so strongly tied music to their understanding of worship, that they only think of God’s greatness when musical accompaniment is available! Music can not be the mediator between God and man. Jesus Christ is the only mediator, and it is common to see people worship the emotion that music can bring or even worship the music itself. These are both empty idols compared to our great God.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:16,17
From this passage we see that worship is all inclusive and not limited to one activity. Worship is the giving of our whole being for God’s glory. The mark of true worship in Scripture seems to consistently include two elements. The first, is that God’s place and priority in our lives is elevated. Secondly, the Holy Spirit gives conviction of our sins and leads us to turn away from those sins and turn towards God. The core of worship is understanding that only God is worthy of our affection, our attention, and our devotion. The worship of other things will always be an enticing but ultimately unfulfilling endeavor. God desires us to worship only Him, because He is the only worthy receiver of our worship, and it is in that relationship that we are fulfilled.
True worship is a response to what God has done and is doing with the obedient pouring out of our lives. It is key to recognize that worship is never ceasing but ongoing. It is not a time on Sunday, nor is it a specific place, but continual worship happens at all times and all places. Worship at Grace Church happens through a wide variety of means: It can take place in our lives as we interact with others and with God. It can happen while singing to God during a service or gathering. It can take place when people attend a small group or home fellowship and share their lives with others. It can take place when people serve or volunteer both within the church and in the community. Most importantly, it happens everyday in the lives of those who pursue Jesus as the center and authority of their life. Worship can happen corporately or privately, and each has its place in the Christian life.
Worship effectively changes how we do everything. It affects the way we think, watch, listen, eat, relate, and live. We love those that make our lives complicated because God loved us while we were His enemies. We look for ways to show His love to others. While living in a world that says that material things will make us happy, we cling to the Truth God has given us in Scriptures, that only He can satisfy. All of these elements tie back to the Gospel message, that Jesus has paid the price for sinners and requires a life of faith in Him.