If someone asked you to give a definition of worship what would you tell them? This last Sunday we had a “worship and prayer” service as a creative departure to our regular service time. Instead of a traditional “message” where I preach for 40 minutes the entire service was built around the Lord’s Prayer with songs and prayer interchangeably giving us an opportunity to reflect, praise, pray and then take communion as a Body of Christ.
The second question is what is your personal idea of worship? Many Christians limit the idea of worship to be an event that happens once a week on Sunday morning, or possibly Saturday night, depending on when you meet together as a faith community. In this model worship is usually about singing songs or hymns and giving adoration to God through the venue of singing. But there is a different model of worship that expands this thought beyond simply a Sunday morning experience.
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24 NAS)
While an aspect of worship for the community of faith has a certain uniqueness, when those who have been called out of the world gather together to exalt and worship God as the church of Christ, this is not about methods or traditions or peculiar practices of any particular church. The standing reality for every person is that God gives the opportunity for all who are in Christ to worship Him and that is something that becomes a heart response to God first and foremost. In fact it is the singular criteria that Jesus puts forth regarding our relationship with God and worship. The term used in these verses “worship” literally has the idea of “showing reverence” or “to bow down” which was a Middle Eastern picture of those who carved out time to seek God in a very international manner. The reality is that true worship is an expression of our inner person toward God by always treating Him in our daily lives with the reverence that He deserves.
This thought of reverence takes up back to the Lord’s Prayer that we have been exploring on Sunday mornings. This prayer begins with “Our Father, who is in the heavens, hallowed be your Name”. The essence of this is that we should live life always honoring God as our Father or to always live in such a way that honors the family name. This is the relational aspect of the way we show proper respect to our Father. The other side of the coin is our responsibility of “hallowing His Name”. The word “hallowed” has the idea of treating someone with reverence or (as we have suggested) always treating God as holy.
The proposal here is that worship is more of a way of life not just an event. The fact is that we should never diminish the elegance and creative mosaic of the manifold wisdom of God’s grace reflected in those individuals called out of the world from every different walk of life, ethnic group, and social economic class that find common ground in life around the person of Christ. It is unfortunate that the personal preferences of people have often taken the magnificence of such a mystery and turn it into a context of complaint and frustration. But the other side of that coin is that worship is our life offered to God for His glory since we are the temple (sanctuary) and dwelling place of His Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20). But notice the priority: worship must be done in spirit and in truth; what a great comfort that living according to His truth is an act of worship too.
In His grace,