Summary: An exhortation to worship in truth.
Do We Really Worship?
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (KJV)
What does it mean to worship God? I suspect that if we asked a dozen people we would get a dozen or more answers. We talk about worship services, songs of worship, prayers of worship, etc. Are all these things worship or ancillary parts of worship. In some cases, they may well be hindrances to worship.
Just look at what defines a worship service. To some groups, there must be reading of creeds. Some read elegant archaic prayers while others would cringe at anything but a "spontaneous" prayer. Certain songs must be sung and the service must follow a certain pattern. Even the low-church services have a pattern or form whether we call them liturgical or not. We must worship in a building that is huge and ornate or in a living room to be biblical.
Some churches expect raucous amens while others demand silence and would look askance at anyone that would even whisper amen. Some demand manifestations of the Spirit or spiritual gifts while others would flee in fear should the Spirit choose to manifest Himself, which would really be a manifestation of Christ since the Spirit does not speak of Himself (John 16:13).
Church music ranges from Gregorian chants to rap while some insist that no music is acceptable or it must be without instruments. Cleric attire runs from priestly robes to casual wear. Congregations dress for success or come as they are. In one church that was considering me as a pastor, folks came in sandals, shorts, and halters.
The one thing in common with all these expressions of "worship" is that they are external. Many come from the doctrines of men versus biblical outline. Some are legalistic and some near hedonistic. All are sincere attempts at worship. To man, who looks on the outside, they are worship.
God may see them a little differently. If you remember the study on Isa 1, we saw the Hebrews performing all the fasts and observances according to the outline given to them by God yet God called them iniquity (Isa. 1:13). Not because they were technically incorrect, but because it was all ritual and external. Their hearts were far from Him even as their mouth was honoring Him (Isa 29:13). They had a great worship service goin’ on with no worship really happening!
I am afraid we are no different than them. We can do everything right according to our tradition or conviction, but we are just making a lot of noise or performing a lot of activity that brings God near to nausea and make Him weary (Isa 1:13,14).
Let us look at the Hebrew and Greek words for worship. Here we will see what it really involves.
7812 shachah (shaw-khaw’); a primitive root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God): KJV-- bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.
4352 proskuneo (pros-koo-neh’-o); from 4314 and a probable derivative of 2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore): KJV-- worship.
Do you see anything suggesting buildings, music, attire, and all the stuff we link to worship? As the passage in Acts says, He is not worshipped with man’s hands and He needs nothing from us. Since the beginning, we have tried to find Him and feel Him though we live in His presence as we do in oxygen. He is in us and around us and yet we feel around for Him like a contact lost on a beach.
We want to lock Him up in a certain style of building and yet He has no bounds of habitation as we do. We want to make Him conform to our image when we were made in His and are saved to ultimately conform to the image of His Son.