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What is Worship?

“Human beings by their very nature are worshipers. Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.” – Paul David Tripp

By design we are worshipers. With every action and breath we spend our lives worshiping. It comes across as evident in the way that we live. Many times, in Christian circles, the term worship is used simply to describe the act of singing or playing music. This is more than an oversimplification. It takes away from what worship really means. It is not just an act of singing or playing music. Worship is the outpouring of our lives in a way that brings glory and honor to something or someone. We were made to be instruments of worship to God but more often than not our worship is placed inappropriately onto other objects.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis

We can take our definition of worship from Jesus in John 4 when the Samaritan woman asked him about it. She was not asking about how worship should be done or what it looked like but rather location. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say Jerusalem is where people ought to worship.” Her assumption about what worship looked like was different from ours today. She was asking about where animals should be brought to be killed and sacrificed on an altar. This is a similar distortion to the view of worship as the act of gathering for song. So we should look carefully at his response. First he turns the conversation away from location. “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” I know that this is a common misconception that is believed today. Next he speaks to the object of worship. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” This was his correction to another idea that many of us hold today. That Christ should be our only object of worship but we constantly worship other things. Even when we believe that we are rightly worshiping God, we often find ourselves in idolatry because of our rebellion or religion. Finally, he tells us how to worship. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Our worship must be done in spirit and truth. This uniquely puts the emphasis not on religious practice or on ritual but on the state of heart aligned with the truth of God. With this in mind, we can clearly see that our worship is not relegated to church services, although the gathering of disciples for corporate worship is of great value, but that it should be an outpouring of our lives that is clearly seen in every area.

Living in a way that gives God the glory in everything that you do; this is true worship. Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” That you would not live your life for your family, your job, your pleasure, or material wealth, although all of those things are a blessing from God, but that you would live for Christ and His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit is what will in the end bring you freedom and life.

Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Please consider your life. What do you worship and how do you live it out? Do you worship God in the way you work, love your family, serve your community, talk to strangers and friends, and steward nature? I want you to experience life abundantly and to find peace and joy in spite of your circumstances.

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” – Westminster Shorter Catechism

Not one of us can do this perfectly, but to the best of our ability we should strive to give God glory in every aspect of life. Through true worship: a life sacrificed and devoted to Christ, not of our own ability but through his power, we can experience his pleasure and the life and love that he has for us.

Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

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