We head to Church on Sundays to worship. Well, at least some of us do. But did you ever wonder if worship was bigger than a Sunday morning? What if that’s just the tip of the iceberg? What if there’s so much more?
At Springhouse Worship & Arts Center (yes that’s the name of the church I attend) we’ve been talking a little bit about worship recently. We come together to proclaim the name of God, to sit under the public reading of the Word, and to allow God to minister to us through each other. It’s pretty cool.
We sing songs about God. We dance and raise our hands and sometimes shout. We try to yield ourselves to God’s word and his leading in our lives. We pray for each other. We talk about and learn about God. We share our burdens and our strengths.
Just a Small Part
But that’s just a small part of worship. At least the way we understand worship. Wayne Berry, our Worship Ministries Pastor, often says that “Worship is all we say and do.”
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
Based on this passage, Pastor Wayne is absolutely right to say that “Worship is all we say and do.” Or at least, as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, it ought to be and it can be. But there’s more to it because all that I say and do is only worship if it actually is worship, right? So how can I know that all I say and do actually is worship?
A Simple Definition of Worship
I’m going to borrow from John Piper and my older, Reformed brothers in the Faith. Actually, I’m going to steal directly from John Piper’s book Desiring God (affiliate link). If you haven’t read it, you really ought to. It’s theologically solid and can inspire a passion for the life God gives us.
Worship is when we gladly glorify and enjoy God.
Now there’s a definition that I can sink my teeth into. It’s a definition that I can live. It’s a fundamental view of how I can truly make worship “all I say and do.” And it’s useful to me because it consists of only a few basic elements that I can actually understand.
- God – Worship is first and foremost about God.
- Gladly – Worship is given gladly.
- Glorify God – Worship glorifies God.
- Enjoy God – Worship enjoys God.
Putting it into Action
With these few criteria, I can live a life of worship. Praise becomes worship. Study becomes worship. Sharing my faith becomes worship. Work becomes worship. Prayer becomes worship. Serving others becomes worship. Helping the poor becomes worship. Defending the oppressed becomes worship. Loving others becomes worship. Submitting to God becomes worship. Life becomes worship.
Or at least it can be as long as in all I do I’m gladly glorifying and enjoying God.
I Haven’t “Arrived” Yet.
Worship is not yet all I say and do but I’m working on it. And the Holy Spirit is forming me more fully into the image of Christ as I worship.
What about you? Is worship all that you say and do?
Image credit: Ben Ehmke
I really don’t like the “worship is a lifestyle” theology that seems to be based on just 1 or 2 verses because it seems like it’s often an excuse for people to do everything they normally do and call it worship. Out of the 108 times the word worship is used in the NKJV, 34 times it’s the Greek word proscuneo and 54 times it’s the Hebrew word shachah which both mean to depress, prostrate, bow, stoop, crouch, kiss like a dog licking his master’s hand, to adore, to fawn, to prostrate oneself in homage. Biblical worship looks a lot like a physical posture in response to honor and respect and love. I absolutely believe that praise, study, sharing ones faith, working, prayer, serving, etc. are important parts of Christians lives as they are in response to love and obedience to God. I just don’t understand why people want to call these things worship. What’s the big deal with the label?
How about “Righteousness is a lifestyle”?
I think I hear your heart on this one. And I sure agree that what I’m talking about is absolutely NOT being lazy and calling it worship.
More specifically, what I’m hoping to address is that adoration of the Risen Christ is a starting place. That proclamation of God’s glory is not all that worship about.
While Romans 12:1 serves as a proof text for what I’m talking about, it’s sure not all that this is based on. At the core of my understanding of worship is the first question of the Westminster Catechism (The chief end of man is to glorify and enjoy God – http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html)
See also Genesis 47:31, Deuteronomy 10:12, Joshua 7:9 (“glorify” could also be understood as “worship”), Isaiah 1:11-17.
Am I denying that Sunday worship is not worship? NO! I’m just saying that there’s more.
I almost forgot – Isaiah 29:13