The Fear of the Lord
The Fear and trembling
Awe and reverence
Unrestrained shouts of Praise
Weeping and morning
So many inspired descriptions of worship lead us to question why we would limit our understanding of worship to only being the song and music. And furthermore, it causes us to ask the question of how does one define worship? What is it?! Perhaps the best definition of worship I have heard is this: “Worship is an outward expression of an inward reality” (unknown). In other words, worship is any (and all) outward expressions that demonstrate the object of your affection. What does this mean? This means prayer is an act of worship. Fasting is an act of worship. Singing praises. Serving the Lord at church. Restraining from profanity. Mopping the floors. Raising your kids. Driving your car. Acts of obedience (large or small). Reading Scripture. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord…” This is worship. It is expressing our affections for the Lord in everything we do! In both the scholastic theological and spiritual formation realms, worship is understood as being intended to encompass the entire scope of Christian living. Everything!
Charles Spurgeon says, “All places are places of worship to a Christian.” There is not a place we can go where we cannot, nor should not, serve the Lord. He is the object of our affections. He is the One we esteem the most. We are to practice, regularly, expressing our gratitude and our adoration and our appreciation for our Savior. This is something we can do anywhere. On a very practical level, we can start by practicing a militant thankfulness. 1 Thess. 5:16-19 tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
Now that we have briefly covered what worship is, let us look at who is identified as a “worshiper” in the Bible. This might surprise you! From the front of the Book to the end of the Book, the Bible clearly describes humankind as worshipers. Man and woman. Jew and gentile. Slave and free. Christian and non-christian. From Cain to the Philistines. From the pagans to the Jews. From the Canaanites to the Babylonians. From the worship of God to the worship of idols. Mankind has been inherently created to worship! It is obvious that within the intricacies of our DNA we are worshipers. There will always be some object upon which mankind places their affections. We serve and devote our time and our money to the things we value most. If you turn to social media, you will see the worship of philosophies and ideologies. You will see the veneration of political agendas. You will see people expressing the affections of their hearts for something. From worshiping and serving their sexual appetites to expressing their love and devotion to the object of addiction. God crafted this in us that we might be drawn to worship Him. The problem was the fall. In the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve introduced sin and death into the world, the world was launched into a tailspin. The Bible states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Our identity as worshipers was corrupted by sin, and now we worship things that do not deserve our affections. In our fallenness, we worship our careers, our wives, our theological frameworks, our preferences, our sport, our ideas of marriage, our code of ethics, our cars, our homes, our scientific presuppositions, etc. We are worshipers, and we will worship something.
The difference between our worship and the worship of the world is that we worship something eternal – Someone that is worthy. The Object of our worship is the invisible, personal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable God. We express our affections for a God that would give Himself for His people. We serve and obey a God that created the heavens and the earth. The God Who created an escape plan from a temporary world that is scheduled to go up in flame like a match-stick. We serve Jesus Christ. He alone can save us. He alone can help us. He alone can heal us. He alone can deliver us. He alone can comfort. He alone can bring fulfillment and lasting satisfaction. He alone can work the impossible! This is the difference between our worship and the worship of the world.
Now staying true to our goal for this series, before I attempt to answer the question of “what does this say about God and what does this say about us?”
What does this Say about God?
He is to be considered the most treasured and precious commodity in our lives. He is of more worth than anything else in this life.
“And they sang a new song, saying,
‘Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation…’
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!’
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
There is only one God – one thing – that was able to accomplish the impossible work of salvation. And there is only one God who can perfectly accomplish the ultimate and final movement of redemption on earth.
This reveals a God who is of insurmountable worth. He is the Object to be obtained at any cost. He is the most valuable and treasured Possession to be had. He is greater than any amount of silver or gold. God is precious and to be treasured above all else.
Psalm 36:7, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Lastly, being designated a worshiper of Yahweh also reveals something of relationship. There are a vast number of passages that connect a personal relationship with God to the worship of God. Look at the contrast here in Deut. 4: 28-29. It says, “And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Compared to the worship of inanimate objects, God makes himself available. He is a personal God. He is living and active. He is able to respond to the cries and prayers of His people.
Also, it shows a relational partnership. We get to work with God in this world to accomplish His will. Our worship includes serving God. This reveals a God who is personally involved in the lives of his people and the world. This emphasizes a relationship and partnership with God in administering His love, grace, and mercy to others. We do not just sing songs of worship to our God; we serve God and serve with God in accomplishing his plans.
1 Peter 2:9,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Col. 3: 15-17,
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
What does this say about us?
What expectation does this inspired identity statement place upon us? Firstly, it describes a people who have undyingly placed the entirety of their affections and joy upon God. Jesus once said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Being worshipers of the One true God reveals a people who have treasured God above all else.
Not just on Sundays. Not just during the worship or the reading of the Word. We treasure God and seek to express our gratitude and everywhere we are. Again, Spurgeon states, “All places are places of worship to a Christian. Wherever he is, he ought to be in a worshiping frame of mind.” It is not merely that we would reflect upon Him, and meditate upon Him, passively. It is that our passion for God should drive us to restlessly seek Him.
Regularly engage in our relationship with God.
And lastly, it describes a people who worship/serve God by serving others. As stated earlier, being a worshiper is synonymously linked to service. So much so, you could even substitute the word worshiper for servant. This identity statement instructs God’s people to express the inward reality of our affections for God by looking for every opportunity to minister to others.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
“knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.”
We serve Good by serving others. This is not a pointless and purposeless service. God lives. All our worship, all our service, all our hard work means something. This worship is unlike the worship of self, or fame, or Lamborghinis. This is the only worship with a promise. The promise of a life-giving, peace-promoting relationship with the Almighty! A practical application of Worship can be as simple as making the conscious effort to make yourself available to be used by God in every moment of your day.
We can fixate our life’s pursuit of fleeting and temporary objects, or we can the practice of worshiping God. We can make every effort to make ourselves available to God. We can “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” and make the conscious efforts to acknowledge the presence of God with us in all moments of our day (Eph. 4:23). This spiritual exercise will lead us to know how to express the joy, love, and gratitude that glorifies God.