By Jacqui Crumrine, Associate pastor worship and arts
It’s very possible that worship is a foreign word and perhaps a weird concept. It would be awkward to walk up to someone and ask them about worship. “Do you worship?” “What do you worship?” It’s probably not a conversation you’d have in the grocery store line. If we use a dictionary definition, worship is to “love, revere or adore something”. Well, in American lingo, we “love” just about everything (pizza, football, family, pets, shopping) so we have to dig a little deeper into the definition. “Revere” implies that we elevate something in importance. That means we direct our time, attention, energy, and even finances towards it. But what about adoration? This takes our emotions to a deeper level. To adore something is to have deep, profound love or esteem. Well, that changes things. Because I wouldn’t say that I adore pizza, shopping or football. So, let’s break it down even more using the five W’s and God’s word to develop our understanding.
Who? This question can be asked two ways:
1 Chronicles 16:23-25a “Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!”
Psalm 66:4 “Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.”
Everyone and everything worships. Period. Everyone elevates something to receive our love, reverence and adoration. It’s just a question of who or what we put in that place to be worshipped. It’s subtle and it sneaks up on us, because things that we shouldn’t worship can shift into a place of priority. Sometimes we worship ourselves, other people, or even our jobs. Sometimes we worship culture or politics. We all worship…all of creation. Who (or what) are you worshiping?
Who do we worship?
Psalm 29:1-2 “Honor the Lord for the glory of His name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.”
Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knew should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
There is only One that we should be worshiping. That is the challenge of turning our eyes everyday away from ourselves and our circumstances to the One that is holy and is the Name above all Names. We worship God, alone! The Bible is full of details about the character of God, and the gospel truth of our salvation. When it comes to worship, we start there. (See “Why” for more reasons to worship God.)
What do we do? (Or How?)
Romans 12:1-2 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
1 Samuel 15:22 “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission better than offering the fat of rams.”
Psalm 63:3-5 “Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.”
When asked about worship, did you think first about music? Music and our corporate experience of singing, shouting, clapping, and dancing (all Biblical) are one way that we worship. It’s powerful because of Who we worship and that we are united together. But worship is so much more. These verses teach us that we worship with our bodies, sacrifice, offerings, prayer, singing and lifting up our hands, and obedience. There are many other verses that teach us how to worship, but it starts with giving God ALL of ourselves. Heart, body, mind and soul.
Matthew 22:37 “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. Love our neighbor as yourself.”
Loving your neighbor is equally as important as loving God! That means that we worship when we love our neighbor. We worship when we serve others and care for the poor and needy. We worship when we give of ourselves to fight for justice and mercy, with the love of Christ.
When do we worship?
John 4:23 “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The father is looking for those who will worship Him that way.”
Worship is not limited to the 3-4 songs we sing on Sunday mornings. Worship is 24-7. It’s how we live. It’s how we speak. It happens when we work. It happens when we are with other believers serving and growing as disciples. It happens when we give our lives to God and put Him at the center of everything we say and do. It shouldn’t be something that we “do”, it should be how we live, in spirit and in truth.
Where do we worship?
Deuteronomy 12:5-7 “Rather, you must seek the Lord your God at the place of worship He himself will choose…the place where his name will be honored. There you will bring your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings…There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you.”
If worship happens all the time, then that means worship happens everywhere. But there is something special about the time that we set aside to gather as the body of Christ and worship God. God invites us into that sacred space, and it becomes sacred because His name is honored there. We sing, rejoice, bring our offerings, feast, and celebrate the Word. We want to prioritize this time each week because it is powerful!
Why do we worship?
Hebrews 12:28 “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”
Simple answer? We are commanded to worship (go back up to Matthew 27:37). So, the answer to this question could be about obedience. But I think there’s more to it. When we center our lives around Christ, receive the fullness of His love and forgiveness, our worship becomes a response that can’t be contained. We WANT to worship! It’s not out of duty, or expectation, but because we know that God deserves it. He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. He is Creator, Savior, Lamb on the Throne, Redeemer, Healer…and oh, so much more.
My prayer for all of us is that we would grow in our understanding of God so that we can worship Him freely. I hope that we can get over ourselves and put Him in the highest place in our lives, and in doing so, serve Him with our whole lives!
This is a journey that never ends. The more we know Christ, the more we worship in spirit and in truth.