What is Worship?

What is Worship?

I’ve heard this question asked before and sort of dismissed it.   Well…duh. It’s putting something/someone above everything/everyone else. It just didn’t seem like much of a question to me. I mean, I’ve always known that worship isn’t just the music on Sunday. Worship is a way of life. It’s what you focus on.

But today the exact same question hit me in a different way.   Have you ever had that happen?   It’s a strange thing… Same words, but after reading Isaiah 44:9-20 and thinking seriously about idolatry and how it affects us today, I was faced with these words in Isaiah 2:8.

Their land has also been filled with idols;
They worship the work of their hands,
That which their fingers have made. 

And then in my Bible study came that question, What IS worship? What does it mean to worship the work of your hands? And suddenly, it was a new question for me. I had always thought it was asking, “What is the dictionary definition?”   But suddenly I was faced not with the abstract What, but instead with the hands-on How. HOW do we worship? What does it looks like, feel like, to worship? What is our method?

“To worship the work of your hands” naturally leads us to think of our work.   Businesses and careers can certainly become idols. When you think of the job constantly and make that the center of your existence, you begin to sacrifice other good things in order to focus on your work.   I would guess that many successful business people are guilty of some degree of idolatry. When you sit in church and plan the week ahead in your mind, it’s time for a heart check. 

Lifestyles vary, but this is a very common theme. I once heard of a woman whose spotless, perfectly decorated home had become her idol. Her children played outside, and she rarely allowed them to spend much time indoors because they messed up her clean floors. Her neighbors remember the children knocking on the door of their home asking to come in, but being refused. Her children remember that, too—with bitterness. When relationships suffer because of time and attention devoted to other things, it’s a good time to check for idols.

In years past, Christians heard quite a lot of admonitions about pride. Lately, that has become a much less common theme, but there’s no escaping the fact that pride is an abomination to God and we shouldn’t allow it in our lives. Pride is most definitely wrong, giving credit to ourselves for something God has accomplished.

But is that worship? I never bow down to myself or sing songs to myself or tell myself how much I adore me, nor do I set out sacrifices or offerings to show myself how eager I am to serve me. So those words and actions aren’t really the crux of worship, are they? Those are just the trappings.

I heard a message this weekend about how we have lost, to a degree, the awe that people once had for God. Many people portray God as just a good buddy with cool super powers, rather than an omnipotent Creator of the Universe who holds all life in His hands—a fearsome God who we could never possibly please on our own. I think we may have lost, at the same time, our understanding of worship. When worship becomes the singing of love songs and an inspirational speech, we have missed the real point. It becomes something we do for us, to receive a particular feeling, rather than something we offer to God in thanksgiving.

So how exactly should we worship God? What are the things that comprise true worship? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’ll post more of mine in a day or two when I have sorted them out a bit better..


About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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2 Responses to What is Worship?

  1. Sherri says:

    I’ve been thinking about this exact subject lately because I am reading through the OT in the NLT. This morning I was reading about when David took a census and God punished him. 2Sam 24, esp vs 25 and 1 Chron 21, esp verses 14-17. God directly answered Davids prayer and was very merciful. Reading this gave me great hope that God DOES answer prayers but at the same time, the feeling I had was one of reverence…a bit of fear…amazement…there really are no words to describe the feeling..just an incredulous wonder at how very, very powerful and in control God is. Only, Only, ONLY because of Jesus can we even possibly ( and again its amazing!) approach Him. Yes he loves us and wants a relationship with us. Yes, Jesus made all the difference in opening up the way straight to God’s heart. But I do think that too often I forget that God has many attributes, all within His Love, many of which I can not really grasp. I forget His awesomeness. So. I really like your next to last paragraph. But to answer your question at the end…I’m not sure it’s so much in the how as it is in the heart. When I think of the thousands of cultures and different “hows” of worship….it seems like there are lots of right hows. It’s more a belief…a knowing in the heart…and like you said…an offering rather than a feeling. Perhaps we can take steps to re-inspire the true view of God in our hearts. Maybe everyone should read through the OT once a year? And the NT too. I tell you what, I have wept over the seeming harshness of God as I read but every time I want to quit it’s like I hear God say, keep going! Keep going! The best is yet to come! It’s like I can’t WAIT to read about Jesus..Redeemer. And of course, we are all influenced by what we listen to and read. For example, people flock after books like “Heaven is for Real”, but I liked what David Platt had to say in this sermon “Heaven, Hell and the End of the World”. Lest I sound like I have this all figured out, be assured that I ebb and flow just like anyone. Dry spells for sure. But this year has been one like no other…I try and try and try and TRY (again..no word emphatic enough comes to my mind) to figure God out and the more I try, the more I see His awesome bigness and the more I cry out to Him for mercy, which is, honestly, the only attribute I can seem to grasp. And now that I think about it, maybe that’s why we do tend to gravitate to the “buddy” mentality. It’s easier to understand and takes less faith, perhaps? Idk.

    • dayuntoday says:

      The fact that you “try and try and TRY” and then can see nothing but His awesome bigness and His mercy–isn’t that really what it’s all about? Figuring out that we are painfully inadequate and weak, realizing how completely, incredibly huge and powerful our God is, and reaching out to accept the loving kindness that He offers…that’s really the whole story of Christianity, isn’t it? You have been through a crushingly hard time, and I think that sharpens your perception of God like nothing else. Thank you for sharing!

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