Summary: This is a basic definition of worship.
Worship is a broad term. Some have said that it defies explanation. Merriam-Webster defines worship as, “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” or “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” following up with “to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship.” Three thesaurus entries for worship include: revere, adore and love. Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life says, “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.” Ralph Martin states, “Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his worthiness becomes the norm and inspiration of human living.” William Temples says, “Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose -- and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”
Read John 4:19-24.
The Bible has many others statements about worship, but these are two that convey great meaning about worship.
I. What Worship Isn’t
A lot of misconceptions exist about worship. I want to look at seven things that worship isn’t. There are a bunch of others things that could fit into this discussion, but these are important. Worship isn’t…
A. About WHAT we know.
What we know can get us a long way in life, but not in worship.
I know the rules of baseball fairly well, that doesn’t mean that I am ready for the Major Leagues.
We know the order of service, but that doesn’t mean we worship. We can know the songs by heart, but that doesn’t mean we worship. We can know what to say and do, but that doesn’t mean we worship.
B. OUR idea.
We didn’t think up the need for worship. Someone wasn’t sitting around one day and said, “Hey, I think we should worship God.” Worship is not a human innovation.
Some of what we do in worship is born of human creativity. Humans, using their God-given creativity, wrote the songs we sing.
C. SPECTATOR event.
Later today, millions of people will watch the Super Bowl, as the Carolina Panthers play. Only about 100 or so people will be involved including officials, coaches and players. Not all the players will even get into the game. Football is, by and large a spectator event.
Many times, people look at a worship service as a spectator event. They see themselves as the audience, the person up front as the performer, and God as the prompter. Not the case.
D. Merely PHYSICAL.
We may attend a worship service and go through the motions. We sing, raise our hands, and say “Amen,” and other things without ever engaging anything else in the event. Our minds are 100 different places.
E. Just SINGING.
Sometimes we say, “I enjoyed the worship portion of the service.” Meaning that we enjoyed the singing. While singing is part of worship, it is not all of worship.
F. Done just at CHURCH.
Sometimes we say, “I am going to church to worship.” A church building isn’t necessary for worship. A building isn’t necessary for worship.
Half-hearted worship is not worship at all. Worship can’t be faked. Rick Warren said, “We can worship God imperfectly, but we cannot worship him insincerely.”
II. What Worship Is
As mentioned earlier, there are many definitions of worship. Let’s look at some things that worship is.
A. About WHO we know.
This is in contrast to not being about what we know. Worship is about knowing God. The Samaritan woman knew about worship.
B. GOD’S idea.
This is in contrast to worship being our idea. Worship is also for God’s benefit, not ours. It’s not about we can get out of it, it’s about what we give to God.
C. PARTICIPATION event.
The Super Bowl. None of us are in any condition to participate in the Super Bowl. God expects us to get involved. God is the audience. The person up front is the prompter, and the congregation is the performers.
Worship should engage our spirit. Jesus said that God is spirit. Worship is our spirit engaging God’s Spirit. It’s not just going through the motions.
E. A LIFESTYLE.
Every part of the worship service is worship. The singing, praying, reading of the Word, preaching and everything else.
F. Done EVERYWHERE.
Our life should entail worship. We should have private worship, but all we do should be for God’s glory: worship. Do whatever you do in life as though you were doing for Jesus.