What would you do if someone told your son that playing basketball is a form of worship? I have a friend whose family has been confronted with this issue? This post and the one previous is an effort on my part to understand what real worship is.
Worship is sometimes linked with service, but they are two completely different issues. For the purpose of this discussion I am only talking about worship not the service we do because we love God or the praise we offer God. If you will allow me to explain.
If I was brought before Queen Elizabeth I would show her honor and respect. by making myself small and focusing on her. I would not stand and applaud (praise) or ask her if I could sweep out her fireplace (service). She might ask me to sweep out her fireplace and I would quickly look for the tools to do it and do it gladly, but the job she gave me would be service not worship. I might later thank her for the opportunity to serve her or later tell others how gracious she was (praise). These are very different matters. I think we understand service and praise. Worship is the one I struggle to grasp.
Some of the Old Testament saints seemed to have a clear understanding of worship. It came natural to them. It was a response to who God was. They worshiped when God worked mightily in their lives. They worshiped when they saw their desperate need. They worshiped when He joined them in their trouble. (Daniel 3:23-26)
There were some who did it for show like King Saul. The nation of Israel went back and forth between true repentance which led to worship and turning back to the worshiping of idols. Their fickleness reminds me of my own heart. I am extremely forgetful.
The first mention of worship in the New Testament is found in Matthew 2. The wise men had heard of the new king and were determined to worship him. Herod is the first great pretender to worship. We know his motives were less than honorable.
Satan is the next one who mentions worship. He offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will simply fall down and worship him. (Matt. 4:9)
The common people seemed to understand. They worshiped him in their need and in their gratefulness.
The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day seemed especially hung up on form and the letter of the law. They told people how and where to worship. (John 4:19-20) It wasn’t uncommon for them to throw someone out of the synagogue who didn’t meet their standards. (John 9:33-38)
Jesus was not concerned with the how, but the why. He looked at the heart. Here is an example of a few choice words he had for the scribes and Pharisees.
You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you; ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ (Matthew 15:7-9 NASB)
I think the following verse sums it up.
for we are the true circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh- (Philippians 3:3 ESV)
Worship isn’t a place I go to or an orchestrated ritual. Worship flows from the heart. It is a response to my desperate need, God’s awesome provision and more importantly His wonderful presence.
Worship is also completely God centered. We live in a society that is prone to self-worship (idolatry). Self has no place in worship.
When I read Revelation I get a small picture of what true worship is. Someday we will understand more clearly. Someday we will be able to worship him more perfectly.
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5 ESV)
So what can I change in my life to allow worship to flow more from my heart? Could it be a lack of worship shows a heart issue that needs to be addressed?