“We must learn how to worship. It will be our occupation for eternity.” Dr. David Jeremiah
Worship is easily misunderstood today. Most of us think of worship as the music portion of a church service. “Wasn’t the worship great today?” or “We could never go to that church; we don’t like the worship.” We even have worship pastors. But it is so much more than that.
What is worship anyway? Here’s what the dictionary says:
wor·ship (wûr’shĭp) n.
The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.
Ardent devotion; adoration.
To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission, as a lover; to adore; to idolize.
Excellence of character; dignity; worth; worthiness. [Obs.] –Shak.
Here’s what the encylopedia says …
Broadly defined, the response to the appearance of that which is accepted as the holy-that is, to a sacred, transcendent power or being. Characteristic modes of response to the holy include cultic acts of all kinds: ritual drama, prayers of many sorts, dancing, ecstatic speech, veneration of various persons and objects, sermons, silent meditation, and sacred music and song. Also included in worship are acts of private response: spoken or unspoken prayers, silence, the assumption of particular postures, ritual acts and gestures, and individual acts of veneration of persons or objects.
Wow, if you look at all those things, you could conclude that one could worship almost anything. We can worship people, a hobby, sports, possessions, power, pets, money, a way of life. (Do you think some people worshipped Michael Jackson?!)
During a worship service we could possibly raise our hands, close our eyes, sing, listen, clap, sit, stand, kneel, give an offering, take communion … we may or may not have an emotional response.
But most often we walk into the sanctuary having given no thought to actually meeting God there. It’s what we do on Sundays. Our hearts and minds are filled with the details of life and the details of ministry instead of anticipating meeting God in the sanctuary.
Some lines from one of my favorite worship songs, The Heart of Worship …
“I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart.”
“I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord for the thing I’ve made it. When it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.”
This next Sunday, take some time on Saturday night after the chaos has settled down a bit and prepare your heart for the Lord’s Day. Break down the definitions above and ponder them. Don’t let the majesty of Almighty God get lost in the smallness of your humanity. Let God’s presence draw you into worship.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2
And when you walk into the sanctuary on Sunday, enjoy the new eagerness and expectancy that comes out of a heart prepared for true worship. After all, your life will intersect with eternity. You can never be the same.