Sunday, September 1, 2019
What does it mean to Worship?
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught" Isaiah 29:13.
The dictionary describes worship as "the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity." Or, in other words,
"Worship is the believer's response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does"(Warren Wiersbe)
Of course, worship in the church is usually performed by singing songs of praise.
Now, If the point of worship is to first recognise who God is and what He does for us, and then to respond to that with all that I am...with my mind, body and soul...HOW am I noticing what others are doing around me? How am I worrying what others may be thinking of me when all of my thoughts should be on God and God alone? Instead, I'm thinking "Am I in tune? Am I too loud? Should I be putting my hands up too?"
Being self-conscious means that I am being self-centred and not christ-centred. I am not truly worshipping.
This isn't the same for everyone, of course, this is just me being honest about my own experiences...so I was really relieved when I learned that I was worshipping in other ways...ways that I didn't even know were worship!
Jesus said "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:24.
Jesus told us that He is the truth, and here He tells us that God is spirit. So we must be completely focussed on Him as we worship. And being completely focussed on Him is worship.
Human rules and traditions are seen by God as not true worship if we are only going through the motions of what we have been taught by other people. Our words are empty and we worship because we are told to stand up and sing.
Worship is not just about telling God how much he means to us, it's also about showing Him. That could be through singing praise to Him, through prayer, serving in His name, reading His word, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to glorify Him, living your life according to Jesus' teachings and following where He leads us. We must worship from within and then let that pour out of us in any way that we feel led to.
All things were created for and by Him. We were created to worship God and to do His good works on his behalf, glorifying Him, not ourselves. It doesn't matter if we put on a good show for others around us if it does not have the purpose of glorifying God. The pharisees would do everything right in the temples, but Jesus called them hypocrites, because they did these things for themselves.
So how can we worship in a meaningful way?
You may not have realised that reading the bible is a form of worship in it's own right. We study scripture because we want to know God and hear His word. Reading the bible shows Him that we care about what He has to say to us. Preaching the bible has been described as "an act of responsive love toward God", the need to preach is an overflow of that love and shows Him that you love and care for His people. Have you ever watched a movie that you thought was so amazing that you had to tell all of your friends to go and watch it? Or have you heard a song that you loved so much, you had to share it with all of your friends on Facebook? Sharing scripture is the same thing, you love it so much that you feel that everyone else needs to see it too!
Serving people is also a way of glorifying God. When you serve others you are imitating Jesus and reflecting God's image. Serving is a way of allowing God to work through you to show others his love for them. When you serve others in His name, as a Christian, you are shining His light from you like a beacon for everyone to see. You are pouring love on others from your acts of kindness and it's a powerful form of evangelism.
Singing praise is the most common form of corporate worship, and is important, but new Christians may be mistaken in thinking that this is the only way of worship. God wants us to sing to him, and to enjoy it. Singing releases endorphins to make us feel good, similar to the feelings of love. It also releases oxytocin which relieves anxiety and stress. This is undeniable proof that God comforts us as we sing to Him in worship, just as He planned when He created us.
My favourite time of singing praise is when I am at home, headphones on, noone around, singing some up-beat christian rock anthem as if I were singing straight to Jesus Himself...and that's exactly what we are doing when we sing songs of praise. We are singing the songs in front of Jesus. There's no better feeling than singing with everything you have, singing straight from your soul, from the foundations of your very being...to our God. And that feeling is just one of His responses to our praise.
Giving is a form of worship that allows us to put our trust in God in a practical way. Our modern world is obsessed with money...striving for a great high-paying career, jetting off of luxurious holidays, having a nice big house, having that designer handbag, the flashiest technology. Money is a sign of status. But what kind of status are we trying to gain? We definitely aren't gaining any status with God, he doesn't care about how much money you have, he cares about your spiritual wealth, how much your heart is worth, not how much your car is worth.
He chose to come and live on this Earth as a mere carpenter's son. He chose to be born in a manger, in a stable. He could have been born into royalty, living in comfort and luxury.
Of course, we need money to live. We need houses and means of travel. We deserve holidays...they are a great way to spend much needed quality time with family and friends. God isn't saying that you have to go without, but he did say in Matthew 6:21 "for where your treasure is, your heart will be also".
The bible tells us that we should give 10% of our earnings to the church, and that may seem like a lot of money, but we put our trust in God that He will provide for us.This money goes towards keeping the church buildings open, warm, bright and inviting. It goes towards supporting a Vicar to devote their life to teaching and caring for the congregation and community. It goes towards training of new clergy and the church's mission. It also goes towards helping the people in need who come to the church for financial help. Without regular giving from church members, God can't be as present in our communities as He wants to be.
Giving, as a form of worship, is the only one that comes at cost to ourselves, so it is a real test to whether we can put God first.
Roman's 12:1 sums all of this up perfectly.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship."
So what is your favourite form of worship? Have I missed out another important way that we can glorify our Lord? Do connect with me and let me know!