Worship is the divinely created answer to the glory of God. It is motivated by divine love and springs from the divine self-revelation towards its creation. In worship, the believer enters into communication with God, the Father, through Jesus Christ, mediated by the Holy Spirit. Worship also means that we humbly and joyfully give priority to God in all things. It manifests itself in attitudes and actions such as: prayer, praise, celebration, generosity, active mercy, repentance. (John 4,23, 1, John 4,19, Philippians 2,5-11, 1, Peter 2,9-10, Ephesians 5,18-20, Colossians 3,16-17, Romans 5,8-11, 12,1, Hebrews 12,28, 13,15-16)
Answer God with worship
We respond to God with worship because worship is simply to give God what is right for him. He is worthy of our praise.
God is love and everything he does, he does in love. That is glorious. We even praise love on a human level, right? We praise people who give their lives to help others. They did not have enough power to save their own lives, but the power they used used them to help others - that's commendable. In contrast, we criticize people who had the power to help but refused to help. Goodness is more praiseworthy than power, and God is both good and powerful.
Praise deepens the bond of love between us and God. God's love for us is never diminished, but our love for him often diminishes. In praise we remember his love for us and kindle the fire of love for him that the Holy Spirit has kindled in us. It is good to remember and practice how wonderful God is because it strengthens us in Christ and increases our motivation to be like Him in His goodness that enhances our joy.
We were made for the purpose of praising God (1 Peter 2,9) to bring glory and glory to him, and the more we are in tune with God, the greater our joy will be. Life is just more fulfilling if we do what we were created to do: to honor God. We do this not only through worship, but also through our way of life.
A way of life
Worship is a way of life. We sacrifice our bodies and minds to God (Romans 12,1-2). We worship God when we share the gospel with others (Romans 15,16). We worship God when we make financial sacrifices (Philippians 4,18). We worship God when we help other people (Hebrews 13,16). We express that he is worthy, worthy of our time, our attention and loyalty. We praise his glory and humility by becoming one of us for our sake. We praise his righteousness and grace. We praise him for the way he really is.
He created us for that - to announce his fame. It is just right that we praise the One who made us, who died for us and rose to save us and to give us eternal life, the one who even now works to help us, to him to become more similar. We owe him our loyalty and devotion, we owe him our love.
We were made to praise God and we will do it forever. John was given a vision of the future: «And every creature that is in heaven and on earth and under earth and on the sea and everything that is in it, I heard saying: He who sits on the throne and that Lamb be praise and honor and praise and violence from eternity to eternity! » (Revelation 5,13). This is the right answer: reverence for those who deserve reverence, honor for the honorable, loyalty for the trustworthy.
Five principles of worship
In Psalm 33,1: 3 we read: “Rejoice the LORD, you righteous; the pious should praise him rightly. Thank the Lord with harps; praise him for the psaltery of ten strings! Sing him a new song; plays beautifully on the strings with happy sound! » Scripture instructs us to sing a new song to the Lord, to cheer for joy, to use harps, flutes, tambourines, trombones and cymbals - even to worship with dance (Psalm 149: 150). The picture is one of exuberance, uninhibited joy, happiness that is expressed without inhibitions.
The Bible gives us examples of spontaneous worship. It also gives us examples of very formal forms of worship, with stereotypical routines that remain the same for centuries. Both forms of worship can be legitimate, and neither can claim to be the only authentic way of praising God. I would like to reiterate some general principles related to worship.
1. We are called to worship
First, God wants us to worship him. This is a constant that we see from the beginning to the end of Scripture (Genesis 1: 4,4; John 4,23:22,9; Revelation). Worship is one of the reasons why we were called: to proclaim His glorious deeds (1 Peter 2,9). God's people not only love and obey Him, but they also practice specific acts of worship. They make sacrifices, they sing praises, they pray.
In the Scriptures we see a great variety of forms of worship. In the law of Moses many details were prescribed. Certain people have been assigned specific tasks at specific times at specific locations. The who, what, when, where and how was specified in detail. In contrast, we see in 1. Book of Moses very few rules, as the patriarchs worshiped. They had no appointed priesthood, they were not confined to any particular place, and they were given little to what they sacrifice and when they should sacrifice.
In the New Testament, we again see little about the how and when of worship. Worship activities were not limited to a specific group or location. Christ has abolished the Mosaic requirements and limitations. All believers are priests and constantly give themselves as living sacrifices.
2. Only God should be worshiped
Despite the great diversity of the styles of worship, there is a constant throughout the Scriptures: only God should be worshiped. Worship must be exclusive if it is to be acceptable. God demands all our love, all our faithfulness. We can not serve two gods. Although we may worship Him in different ways, our unity is based on the fact that He is the one we worship.
In ancient Israel, the rival god was often Baal. In Jesus' time it was religious traditions, self-righteousness and hypocrisy. In fact, everything that comes between us and God - everything that makes us disobey Him - is a false god, an idol. For some people today it is money. For others it is sex. Some have a bigger problem with pride or they worry what other people may think about them. John mentions some common false gods when he writes:
«Don't love the world or what's in the world. If someone loves the world, that is not the love of the father. Because everything that is in the world, the flesh lust and the eyes lust and hopeful life, is not from the father, but from the world. And the world passes with its lust; but whoever does the will of God remains forever » (1 John 2,15: 17).
No matter what our weakness is, we must crucify, kill, we must set aside all false gods. If something prevents us from obeying God, we have to get rid of it. God wants to have people who worship Him alone.
The third constant regarding worship that we see in Scripture is that worship must be sincere. There is no use in doing something formally, singing the right songs, gathering on the right days, saying the right words if we don't really love God in our hearts. Jesus criticized those who honored God with their lips, but who worshiped him in vain because their hearts were not close to God. Your traditions (originally designed to express their love and worship) had become obstacles to real love and worship.
Jesus also stressed the need for sincerity when he says that we have to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4,24). When we say that we love God but are actually annoyed with His instructions, we are hypocrites. If we value our freedom more than his authority, we cannot truly worship him. We cannot put his covenant in our mouths and throw his words behind us (Psalm 50,16: 17). We cannot call him Lord and ignore what he says.
Throughout the Scriptures, we see that true worship must include obedience. This obedience must include God's words in the way we treat each other.
We cannot honor God if we do not honor His children. «When someone says: I love God and hates his brother, who is a liar. For who does not love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he does not see? » (1 John 4,20: 21). It reminds me of Isaiah's relentless criticism of those who practice worship rituals while practicing social injustice:
«What am I to do with the amount of your victims? saith the LORD. I am fed up with the burnt sacrifice of rams and the fat from fattening calves and do not like the blood of the bulls, the lambs and the goats. When you come to appear before me, who demands that you crush my forecourt? No longer offer such futile food offerings! The incense is an abomination to me! New moons and Sabbaths, when you get together, I don't like outrage and festive gatherings! My soul is hostile to your new moons and annual festivals; they are a burden to me, I am tired of carrying them. And even if you spread your hands, I hide my eyes from you; and even if you pray a lot, I don't hear you; because your hands are full of blood » (Isaiah 1,11: 15).
As far as we know, there was nothing to complain about on the days these people held, the type of incense, or the animals they sacrificed. The problem was the way they lived the rest of the time. "Your hands are covered in blood," he said - and yet I'm sure the problem wasn't just with those who actually committed murder.
He called for a comprehensive solution: "Let go of evil, learn to do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, make orphans right, lead the widows!" (Vv. 16-17). They had to put their interpersonal relationships in order. They had to eliminate racial prejudice, social class stereotypes and unfair economic practices.
5. The whole life
Worship, if it is to be real, must make a difference in the way we treat each other seven days a week. This is another principle that we see in Scripture.
How should we worship? Micha asks this question and gives us the answer:
"With what shall I approach the LORD, bow down before the high God? Should I approach him with burn victims and with annual calves? Will the LORD please many thousand rams, countless streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, my body fruit for my sin? You have been told, man, what is good and what the LORD demands from you, namely keeping God's word and practicing love and being humble before your God » (Wed 6,6-8).
Hosea also emphasized that interpersonal relationships are more important than the mechanics of worship. "Because I enjoy love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God and not the burnt victim." We are not only called to praise, but also to good works (Ephesians 2,10).
Our concept of worship must go far beyond music and days. These details are not nearly as important as our lifestyle. It is hypocritical to keep the Sabbath while at the same time sowing disunity among brothers. It is hypocritical to sing only the psalms and to refuse to worship in the way they describe. It is hypocritical to be proud of the celebration of the Incarnation, which sets an example of humility. It is hypocritical to call Jesus Lord if we do not seek His righteousness and mercy.
Worship is much more than just external actions - it involves a total change in our behavior that results from a total change of the heart, a change brought about by the Holy Spirit in us. To bring about this change, our willingness to spend time with God in prayer, study, and other spiritual disciplines is needed. This transformation does not happen through magic words or magic water - it happens by spending time in communion with God.
Paul's extended view of worship
Worship spans our entire lives. We see this particularly in Paul's words. Paul used the terminology of sacrifice and worship (Worship) like this: «Now, dear brothers, through God's mercy I exhort you to give your bodies as a sacrifice that is alive, holy and pleasing to God. That is your sensible worship service » (Romans 12,1). All of life should be worship, not just a few hours every week. Of course, if our life is devoted to worship, it will surely include a few hours with other Christians every week!
Paul uses other words for sacrifice and worship in Romans 15,16 when he speaks of the grace given to him by God «so that I may be a servant of Christ Jesus among the Gentiles, to priestly preach the Gospel of God so that the Gentiles may Become a victim that is pleasing to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. » Here we see that preaching the gospel is a form of worship.
Since we are all priests, we all have a priestly role to proclaim the benefits of those who have called us (1 Peter 2,9) - a worship service that every member can attend, or at least participate in, by helping others preach the gospel.
When Paul thanked the Philippians for sending him financial support, he used the terms for worship: "I have received from Epaphroditus what has come from you: a lovely smell, a pleasant sacrifice, pleasing to God" (Philippians 4,18).
Financial help that we give to other Christians can be a form of worship. Hebrews 13 describes worship that takes place in words and in works: "So now let us offer praise to God at all times, it is the fruit of the lips that confess his name. Don't forget to do good and share with others; for such sacrifices please God » (Vv. 15-16).
If we understand worship as a way of life that encompasses daily obedience, prayer, and study, then we have, I think, a better perspective when we look at the question of music and the days. Although music has been an important part of worship since at least David's time, music is not the most important part of the service.
Similarly, even the Old Testament recognizes that the day of worship is not as important as we treat our neighbor. The new covenant does not require a specific day for worship, but it requires practical works of love for one another. He demands that we gather, but he does not dictate when we should gather.
Friends, we are called to worship, celebrate and glorify God. It is our joy to proclaim his benefits, to share the good news with others that he has done for us in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.