Summary: Worship is a necessary practice in growing deeper in Christ. Our worship needs to be God centered, an offering unto him.
Do you understand that from a worldly perspective, what we are doing here on Sunday morning is absolutely ridiculous? I was recently asked, why don’t more people come to worship? Why would they? To most people worship gathering is a waste of time. Why would I go to church when I could sleep in on my day off, when I could do my favorite hobby or sport, or spend time with family? Attending worship makes no logical sense. Why should we worship God?
We have been in a series focused on growing spiritually, by that we mean growing closer to Christ, allowing God to change us to reflect him. Spiritual growth is an act of God, but it doesn’t happen by accident, God doesn’t just suddenly change us one day to be more loving, or kind, or patient, or joyful. God helps us grow gradually through intentional practices or disciplines God has given us, like prayer, reading and reflecting on Scripture, living simply and generously, serving others, confession, and worship. It is very simple, if we want to grow closer to God, then we will intentionally practice these disciples, if we don’t than we won’t. That’s not to say they are a magic bullet for spiritual growth, rather they make us available to God to be changed by him. It is the only way we will truly experience abundant life on this earth. One day we’re going to leave this earth and the only thing which is going to matter is the closeness of our relationship with God and the godly character He formed in us while we’re here, you can’t take anything else with you except perhaps your relationships with other people. So I believe it’s important to focus on these practices for our formation as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Since worship is one of the practices which helps us draw closer to God, I believe I can say that you are not likely growing closer to God if you are not worshipping him regularly, including Sunday morning worship gatherings. Your spiritual life is directly impacted by the practices you choose to do, or not do. You may not like me saying that but it’s true. How we prioritize our worship of God demonstrates the truth about our relationship and commitment to God.
Too often the thoughts can creep in, “It’s okay if I just miss this one week,” or “I didn’t get much out of the service last week,” or, “it’s boring,” or “it isn’t meeting my needs,” or “I don’t really like the people, the pastor, music, etc.” When these thoughts have crept in, and we don’t worship God we’ve missed the point of worship. Worship is not about what we receive. It’s not about us, it’s about God. Worship, biblically speaking, is our response to what God has done, is doing, and will do for us.
What is Worship?
In other words, worship is our response to God’s initiative. Worship is our response to what God has already done for us in creating us, and then giving us abundant and eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Worship is our response to God’s love. Worship is about what I have to offer God and His children because of what God has done for me through Jesus Christ. If God does nothing other than those things, we must worship him.
The problem in our culture is that we have been programmed to think everything is about me and my preferences, what I get, and we bring this into worship. We come to the church service like we would pull our car into a full service gas station or a restaurant drive thru. We put in our order for what we want, we ask someone to “fill ‘er up.” And then we pay our money and go home. We come with the attitude of, ‘what do I get out of it,’ rather than ‘what God gets out of it.’ There is a big difference because if worship is what I get out of it, it doesn’t matter if I go or not, I just won’t fill up the spiritual tank this week I’ll run on 1/3 tank for a while. If it’s about what I have to offer to God, then worship is essential. Rather than asking, “what does worship do for me,” we should ask, “what does my worship do for God?” How did I honor God this morning? What did I give him? It may require us to change our thoughts and attitude about what worship is.
The two most commonly used Greek words in the Bible for worship are latreia and proskunew. Latreia refers to duty. Worship is a religious duty to God. Worship is something we do because God deserves it, it is our religious service to God. If you choose not to worship, you are not honoring God in the way he desires. The second and more commonly used word in the NT is proskunew, pros meaning “to come forward,” and kunew meaning “to kiss.” “To come forward to kiss,” probably referring to the hand or the cheek in their culture. The word usually connotes coming before, to bow down, to kneel, or to lay prostrate before another. It is a sign of honor and reverence to the one being worshipped. In fact, the English word “worship” means “to attribute worth.” We worship the Lord because he is worthy, he deserved it.