Have you ever thought about what worship is all about? Certainly, we have impressions of what worship is but we are often confused about what true worship is all about. For many of use, we have been seduced by the myths of worship. For example, we may think worship is the fuzzy feeling we get when the music of the church service is done right. We want to be moved; we want to have a feeling. But this is wrong. Worship is a choice and we must make that choice to worship God constantly throughout our lives.
Another myth of worship is that worship is a place we go to on Sunday mornings; it is an act, a liturgy, a set of routines we must go through. We might see worship as set of divine hoops we jump through as we do our “churchy” duties. God weeps at the thought of this type of worship.
What is true worship?
The word “worship” is derived from two words—worth and ship. Worship is saying that God is worthy to receive glory and honor from me. Thus, worship is the ongoing declaration of the worth of God in my live from all that I that I am and do because of all He is and does.
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (NIV).” This verse is familiar to us, but we often fail to realize it is a call to worship God. We are told a number of truths in this verse regarding worship.
First, my body is to be the vessel of worship. It is a vessel that is to be purified for use in God’s service (2 Cor 4:7). Worship takes place in me. I am the temple, dwelling place, high priest, and vessel. Worship is me taking my life and placing it on the altar as an act of worship to God. Worship is my personal, privileged responsibility encased in my life as the dwelling place of God.
Second, worship is my response to God. The passage begins with “Therefore” which alludes to the first eleven chapters of Romans which show that I have been cleansed of sin and brought into a relationship with God. How can I say thanks to God? If He never did another thing for me, He has redeemed me and for that reason alone He is worthy of my praise and of my worship.
Third, worship is a requirement. God’s first commandment in the Mosaic Law was that you shall have no other gods before Me. Even in our worship, we can put God second. Sometimes the music becomes our worship. Sometimes, just going to a church service becomes our worship. But our required worship is to show God the worth we place on Him. Only He is worthy of our worship.
Forth, worship is to be holy. The vessels used in the worship of God in the Old Testament were purified before they could be used. In the same way, we must be purified—made holy—before we can be used as vessels of worship before God.
Fifth, worship is to be our priority. The progression from Rom 12:1 throughout the rest of the book emphasizes this point. I first lay my life on the altar of God. Verse 12:2 then reveals that my mind is to be transformed. The rest of the chapter shows the importance of using my spiritual gifts in my worship of God. The rest of the book shows how I am to lead a Godly life and thus prove the worth I place on God. All of these are my act of worship—my demonstration of the worth of God in my life. My most important action is to worship God in my life from all that I am and do because of all He is and does.
Sixth, worship involves me as a living sacrifice. I have heard it said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar. But we are to be living sacrifices that firmly rest on God’s altar. I am to worship God alive with life—with all the fibers of my being. Don’t crawl off the altar and worship those things that are not worthy of worship. Only the true God is worthy of our worship.
The idea of worship extends to our entire being. It is life itself. So, why do we live? We live life to show God how much He is worth to us. It is our declaration of the worth of God in my life because of what He has done. Worship is my ongoing everyday response to the worth of God and it happens intimately and corporately—in the quietness of my home and together with the body of Christ.
Worship is done through tears and laughter, grief and joy; it is done every day and everywhere. We worship because God has redeemed me and He is worth my everything. He has done much more than I deserve; He alone is worth my every act of worship.
We also worship God because of His creative work. The magnificence of His creation calls out to me to worship God. All that we see around us—the stars in the sky, the mountain brook, and grass covered plains—are there for only one reason. All creation exists only because of God.
Our temptation is to worship secondary things. Whenever we place other concerns above God we are worshiping those concerns rather than God. Our whole being must be devoted to continuously giving our worship to God.