What Is Worship?
Updated: May 17, 2020
What is worship? When asked this question, most of us immediately think of a worship service at church, particularly, the music and the singing. This is not a bad thought; worship through singing is something that followers of Jesus do. But, if that is all we think about when we think of worship, then we have a very small understanding of what it means to worship. When we gather as a church, everything we do is to be worship. From the call to worship to the benediction, each element of our worship service is worship. But, before I talk about the worship service in particular, I want to give a broad definition of worship.
When we depart from our church gathering, worship should continue. Sadly, this is not always the case. There are scores of church goers that separate their “church life” from their “regular life.” There are many reasons for this, but one reason is how we view worship. If we view worship as just that time when we sing during a church service, it is obvious that we will not worship with the rest of our lives. But, the clear teaching of the scripture is that our entire life is to be an act of worship. In this short blog, I want to examine two passages of scripture that teach this truth. However, before we move on, I want to offer a definition of worship.
Please know, there are countless books that have been written on the topic of worship and there have been countless definitions offered. Some of those definitions are very complex and multi-layered. Frankly, a lot of them are just hard to understand! What I would like to do is offer the simplest definition of worship as possible, something that takes our mind away from music and singing (we will come back to music and singing in a later article). The definition that I offer to you is simply the dictionary definition of worship: worship is “extravagant respect, honor, admiration, and devotion to an object of esteem.” I know, mind blowing, right? As simple as this definition might be, I think it will help us think about worship in whole life terms. So, let us now turn to the scriptures.
Do All Things as Unto the Lord
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Likewise, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” These passages teach us that, in everything we do, the main goal is to glorify God. This is what it means for us to worship with our whole lives. Remember our definition of worship, it is extravagant respect, honor, and devotion to and object of esteem. For the Christian, God is that object; he is most important. The scripture calls us to do everything (and that literally means everything) in our lives as to the Lord and for his glory. All our time spent at work, with friends, with family; when we eat, when we drink, all things are done for the glory of God. This is radical devotion. It is worship.
Our Life as a Living Sacrifice
Romans 12:1 says, “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 service of worship.” In this passage, Paul exhorts the church at Rome to be living sacrifices to God, all based on the mercies of God. These mercies of God are being justified by his grace, as a free gift (3:24), being justified by the blood of Christ while still sinners (5:8-9), being set free from the reign of sin and death (6:17-18,23), and being free from condemnation (8:1). The presenting of ourselves as a living sacrifice is the natural outworking of the mercies God has shown to us in Christ. Giving our entire life to the Lord, not just part of it, is worship. This is not optional; this is what Christians do in response to the mercies of God. This is radical devotion to God. This is worship. Worship is what we do with our whole lives. It is how we live, how we talk, how we treat others; how we eat, how we sleep, etc. As followers of Jesus, this is how we should view worship. Worship should encompass all of life in Christ.
Part of our life in Christ is worshiping together as fellow believers. This is what the Church gathering is; it is fellow, like-minded believers, gathering together to worship their Lord. This is something that we are called to commit to as believers (Hebrews 10:21-25). When we gather as believers, what should our corporate worship look like? What should we be doing? What should we not do? These are great questions and they are questions that we desperately need to be asking. These are the questions that will be the focus of several more articles over the new couple of weeks. Until then, I exhort us all to be living sacrifices to the Lord and to worship with our whole life; “in whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him.” -Colossians 3:17
written by Jacob White