Question 1 (What is worship?)
A look at what worship means, worship in the Bible, and how we might worship today.
Worship is mentioned very often in the Bible; We see the Israelites worship in Genesis and Exodus, Jesus is worshiped in the Gospels, we are called to worship in the epistles, and the angels worship God in Revelation. Yet for all the times worship is mentioned in the Bible, there’s only one verse I know of that defines worship. That verse is Romans 12:1; “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
This verse explained the point of worship to me. One part is offering ourselves to God, but the other part is why we offer ourselves; “in view of God’s mercy, (to) offer you bodies as a living sacrifice…” We sacrifice because of God’s mercy. We offer everything to Him because of what He has done.
Worship is looking to God and offering everything to Him because of how awesome He is.
If that sounds broad or unhelpful to you, that’s o.k. After all, the Bible contains hundreds of examples of worshiping but rarely defines it. Perhaps we can learn how to worship by looking at those examples instead of trying to make a perfect definition.
While the Bible has tons of references to people worshiping God, it also has references to people worshiping other things. And many of us do that today; we are always giving something glory whether we think of it or not. Some worship possessions, others power, others intelligence, others science, others romance, and still others family. Many will even worship themselves. As Christians, we are called to worship God above all else. He gets all the glory, and nothing (or no one) else can even compare.
To recap, worship isn’t defined by music and singing; it’s giving everything (ourselves, our glory, our time, etc.) to God because He is the only being worthy of it.
After I learned this, I was ecstatic to know what worship was, but I still had questions. If worship was as all-encompassing as the Bible made it out to be, why use music every Sunday? Why are worship leaders called worship leaders? Is worshiping through music important enough to do every Sunday?
Those are the questions we’ll talk about next week.