"Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy" Ps. 99:5
I've been thinking about and looking up some verses in my Bible on the topic of worship lately. Here are some of my thoughts and some verses that I found. You may agree with me and you may not. That's okay... this is just some things that were on my heart.
The dictionary defines worship as "reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem."
Much worship in churches has become irreverent today. It is loud, chaotic, sensual, emotionally charged, and centred on self instead of on God. People want a worship experience that makes them feel good. Worship has nothing to do with feeling good, but it has everything to do with exalting the Lord. I need to exalt the Lord whether it makes me feel good or not.
I've been to several different types of "worship" services. In the church I attended as a child the worship service consisted of singing hymns with a piano and organ accompanying, collecting an offering, and reading a Scripture passage. The church I attend now is much the same. Sometimes we also have a testimony time where we can share answers to prayer and praises.
One time I went to a youth worship service where everything was dark except some coloured spot lights that were turned on. The music was very loud with a heavy beat. Most of the kids were jumping up and down, and some were trying to sing, but they couldn't get the words out because they were jumping so much. I was just standing still watching, not really sure what to do, when the youth leader came over to me and started jumping beside me and telling me to "jump for Jesus."
Some would say worship is only a matter of the heart. Both ways of worship that I described can be right as long as the hearts of the people worshipping are right... right? The heart truly is important, because worship starts by having the attitude of worship in the heart. But the Bible gives clear principles that should guide our worship, and to voilate those principles would mean being in disobedience to Scripture. Sadly, many Christians are violating principles of God's Word in the name of worshipping Him. It seems that the prevailing thought in mainstream Christianity today is that worship equals music. Churches have worship bands to enhance the experience of worship, and through this music people are put into a highly charged emotional state. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely not against music in church, but worship in the Bible is so much more than that. Consider the following Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 26:10-11 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, has given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: and thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house...
I Chronicles 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his hame: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
Worship starts with an attitude of giving. Worship is willingly giving of our belongings to the Lord. It is giving glory to His name. It is giving respect and honour to Him. Worship is giving. Worship is also holiness. Both in I Chr 16:29 and in Psalm 96:9 we are told the worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Something that is holy is free from sin, and when it is free from sin it is beautiful in the eyes of God. John 4:24 says we are to worship in spirit and truth. The spirit is referring to the heart. First our hearts must be free from sin. Truth refers to the Bible. That means nothing in our worship should violate God's Word. Worshipping God in truth is the action of worship that others see. Here are two principles that could be applied to worship.
I Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
I Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
I want to go back to the two types of worship services I described earlier, specifically the second one because I believe there was nothing about that service that honoured the Lord. First, it was dark. The Bible speaks alot about darkness. Darkness is a symbol of sin, evil, and wickedness (John 3:19, Eph 6:12). I John 1:5 says that "in Him (Jesus) there is no darkness at all." Jesus is the Light of the world. Secondly, there was the music. It was no different than what would be playing on the secular radio station. It did not "abstain from all appearance of evil." It sounded like a rock concert, it was very loud, and it made people dance. This type of "worship" is not pleasing to God. Instead it makes a mockery of Him, because it puts Him on the same level as a rock band. I don't think that's what the Psalmist meant when he said we were to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
I heard once that the main purpose of the Christian is to worship God. I tried to find a verse to back that up in the Bible, but I couldn't. However, the Bible does say the main purpose of the Christian is to glorify God (I Cor 10:31). We can also glorify God by loving our neighbour, keeping His commandments, serving Him, preaching the gospel, and the list could go on and on. And our worship should glorify God, just like everything else in our lives.
Worshipping God is a privilige of believers. Think about it. God allows us to worship Him. He who is perfect receives worship from that which is imprefect. We are just fallen, sinful, human beings. Amazingly, God forgives our sin, redeems us through Jesus' blood, and makes us new creatures. Does this holy God deserve my worship? YES! What else can I do, but fall on my knees before Him out of respect and awe that He cared about me!
"O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth." Psalm 96:9
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made : marvellous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14