January 12, 2014.
What is worship? This may seem to be a naive question for many Christians today, but I believe that we are not fully aware of the true definition of worship. Do you ever use phrases that you’ve heard so often and know where they fit in a sentence, but you really don’t know what they mean? I know I have. “Preach the gospel.” Well, what is the gospel? “Let’s repent and confess our sins.” What does repentance really mean? “Worship the Lord!” What is worship?
Reading through the Old Testament, one might get a very different idea about worship than what we have today. In fact, if Abraham, Elijah or David were here today and we saw them worship, we might just be appalled. Often times, bowing the head, bowing down or laying prostrate on the ground was directly connected with worship. There was some sign of submission to someone higher.
“Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.”
“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”
“By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.”
How often do you associate bowing or kneeling with worship to God Almighty? It is my belief that many Christians in America associate this practice with other religions and absolutely not with Christianity. I think we may have lost the true meaning of worship due to these associations. When I looked up the definition (English definition, not necessarily the Hebrew or Greek definition) for worship, the terms “reverence” and “honor” came up over and over. Showing or giving reverence an honor. Now, think of what we call worship, and decide if that’s what it really is. Singing. Ok, I can see some songs we sing as definitely giving honor and praise to God (note: I would not put all the songs we sing into this category). Praying. Is praying worship, or is it something different? The sermon. Worship or instruction to believers? Reading the scriptures. Is that at all times worship? Sometimes I believe we use the term too loosely.
So what, is worship only an act of bowing or paying homage? Though I believe that is a form of worship that we may want to get back into the habit of doing, I’m sure you are aware of the next verse I am going to bring up:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Thus, in a sense, Paul says that the way we live our lives is our spiritual worship. In this sense, I think we use the term too narrowly. Everything we do, if we are showing Christ through our actions, can be considered worship. This can be both a blessing or a curse. A blessing if we live righteously and show Christ. A curse if we do the opposite. I do not believe there is middle ground here. Let us all strive to worship the Lord in everything we do.
So what is my point? I am simply trying to spark the mind to think about our definition of worship. In one sense, it is strictly talking about paying direct reverence, homage or honor to the Lord, through praise, bowing or other true acts of showing submission. In a more general sense, it is living our lives as a holy sacrifice that pleases God. Either of these definitions I believe do not get included in what most of us consider worship to be. Let me challenge you, along with myself, to try physically bowing or laying prostrate in worship. Sing a hymn that deals solely with the authority or praise of the Lord. Pray fervently, not necessarily for things you want, but simply ascribing glory and majesty to our Lord. See if the blessings will not flow from it.
Daily Suggested Reading: Psalm 100, Isaiah 6, Malachi 2-3, Revelation 4.
Let us all come and worship the Lord God together.