'The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God himself in the core and centre of their hearts' [A W Tozer]

What is worship?

in Worship of God

A previous post noted that we were created to worship God. Yet what is this worship? Probably the most obvious form of worship is bowing down on your knees or lying prostrate before some sort of physical or mental image or statue, being in a great sense of reverence. But worship is much more than that.

What we worship in our heart is a much more subtle, but more real form of worship. Throughout His teaching, Jesus placed much greater importance on the attitude of the heart rather than the physical actions. This worship in our hearts has no physical boundaries.

Since we were made to worship, the act of worship is ingrained into our personalities, our nature. We all worship something.

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It has been suggested that we worship anything that we arrange our life around. Applying this definition to my own life leads me to consider what I think about the most, what my priorities are, how I spend my money and my time.

For many people, particularly males, sport is an obvious candidate for worship. Sports “fans”, by definition, are people who are fanatical about their sport, or their team. They tend to arrange their lives solely around the sport, they often think about the sport during their waking hours, they memorise statistics about their favourite player, and love to initiate and participate in conversations about their sporting team(s). These people are not ashamed of their team, and often display much commitment and endure much ridicule when their team is at the bottom of the table. This is worship, probably in one of its most pure form, and one that puts many “Christians” to shame in how they worship God.

There are too many other examples to list here, because what people revolve their life around is almost unique to each person. Think about the above paragraph and insert the things most important in your life. It could be very honourable ones, such as family, or working to support loved ones. It could be more materialistic ones, such as a better car, a bigger house, or a longer holiday, and then buying lotto tickets to try and speed up the process. We can even worship ourselves, which is the essence of pride. The thing that you worship might be a constant during your life, or it might change as your priorities change.

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Yet God demands that we only worship Him, and Him alone.

“You shall have no other Gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)

“ Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:8)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

Are we willing to give our other “gods”, and worship God alone?

Think for a moment about what this means. It means arranging our lives solely around spending time with God, thinking about God during our waking hours, memorising bible passages about God’s character, wanting to initiate and participate in conversations about God. It means not being ashamed about Jesus, and displaying much commitment and ridicule when other people question the path we are walking. It means being prepared to make this commitment to God alone, and not to anything else.

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In one way this seems to be asking too much of us as we walk on this journey. Do we really need to be prepared to give up everything in our lives to follow an unseen God? To give over what we enjoy, all our ambitions, our career, into the hands of God?

Yet the more that we find out about God the more we realise that God doesn’t really ask us to give up anything of importance. In some ways it is like we are carrying around a bulky backpack and see a narrow doorway in the distance. Are we reluctant to enter the doorway because we need to leave the backpack behind on the ground? Or do we get so excited about what is behind the doorway that suddenly the backpack isn’t important?

Imagine for a moment that the things on this world are represented by shining lights. Lots of them. Like a moth, we find ourselves being attracted to them. Some capture our attention for a little while, but then we see another one and move closer to that. Each light enticing, but never really totally rewarding. In spite of their promise, they never meet our expectations. Sometimes we recoil, and seek a hiding place, a dark haven of security. Yet these little lights remain enticing, alluring.

Then imagine that there is a dim light starting to shine in the distance behind us. The more we turn around to look, the more we start to move towards it, the bigger and brighter it gets. A light that continues to get our attention, a light that makes us turn away from the smaller lights. And then we leave the other lights completely, and are drawn totally towards this big light. Not only do we avoid those other lights, we don’t even see them. We start to become immersed in this big light, the light that is God.

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God gives us many pointers as to what form this worship should take. It means spending time with God through prayer and reading the Bible; it means learning about God’s character and praising Him because of who He is. And the closer we get to God, the more we are motivated to live a life focussed on the needs of other people. All this is worship.

“……‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25: 37-40)

“ He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

“ Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

It is important to realise that God doesn’t ask us to worship Him, and Him alone, because he wants to take away our enjoyment. Rather God wants us to worship Him because He knows that is what will give us the greatest joy. God, and God alone.

“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

“… everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”” (Isaiah 43:7)




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