The word worship is widely misunderstood. Most people who hear the word worship immediately think of some kind of corporate, formal religious activity. Perhaps what comes to mind is a gathering of pilgrims to lay candles at the feet of Buddha; the singing of a hymn with a thousand fellow believers; or a gathering of a small group on a Wednesday night. In other words, for most people, worship is a word that summarizes the outward spiritual activity of their lives. But the Bible employs this word in a fundamentally different way.
When we are at our bible study, church setting or around other people of our faith, we may claim worship to be as the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible refers to it:
Expression of reverence and adoration of God.A
Or maybe even expanded on in theological terms:
The act of adoring and praising God, that is, ascribing worth to God as the one who deserves homage and service. The church, which is to be a worshiping community (1 Pet 2:5), expresses its worship corporately and publicly (liturgically) through prayer; through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; through the reading and exposition of Scripture; through observance of the sacraments; and through individual and corporate living in holiness and service.B
What is your definition of worship?
As we discuss the term more, it can actually get a little more vague, than clear. Merriam-Webster defines worship in a couple of ways:
- reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also an act of expressing such reverence.
- a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual.
- extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem.
When looking up worship there are a variety of ways we can spend time. Such things as “worship styles”, “places of worship”, “acceptable attitudes of worship”, “elements of worship”, “hinderances of worship”, “results in worship”, and there could probably be the “worship of worshipping worship”. It is quite broad.
The Bible portrays us not just as people who occasionally worship, but as worshipers. It’s not just that we have a religious aspect to our living. No, this worship thing is much more foundational than that. We have been designed by God to be worshipers. This means that worship is first our identity before it ever becomes our activity.
If worship is our identity, what might be some examples of people’s identity via worship?
The worship inclination or motivation that resides in all our hearts was placed there to draw us to God, the One to whom we were made to give our worship.
There is no such thing as a non-worshiping human being. The only thing that divides human beings is what or whom they worship.
What is it, then, that we’re talking about when we say that we are all worshipers? Well, this means that we all attach our identity, our hopes and dreams, our inner sense of well-being, and our meaning and purpose to something. We all give the functional control of our hearts to something. We all live after something. We all tend to surrender to and serve what we think will give us life. Scripture says that there are only two possible objects of our worship. At street level, no matter what your theology is, you are either worshiping the Creator, surrendering your life to him, or you are in active worship of some part of his creation. (The “creator” or the “created”) Sin reduces us all to idolaters in some way. We all put ourselves, other people, or other things in God’s rightful place. Worship of the one true and living God is the only place where life can be found, and worship of anything else is a pathway to doom.
What we worship is not best shown on Sunday morning, but demonstrated by our words and behavior the rest of the week.
So today, every word we say, every choice we make, and every action we take will be shaped by some kind of worship. Nothing depicts our need for the grace of Jesus better than the war of worship that will rage in our heart today.
If we believe that statement, what you others say you worship?
What are some challenges that you struggle with worshipping? Are their techniques that you use to refrain from such activities? Have you been a victim of this behavior in the past month?
28O nations of the world, recognize the LORD, recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong. 29Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor.
30Let all the earth tremble before him. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. 31Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Tell all the nations, “The LORD reigns!” 32Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
33Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise, for the LORD is coming to judge the earth. 34Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:28-34 NLT
AElwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
BGrenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). In Pocket dictionary of theological terms (p. 122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Tripp, Paul David (2014-10-31). New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (p. 174). Crossway. Kindle Edition.