Worship is a word that is often times misunderstood. In the church setting it can be even more confusing. Merriam Webster defines worship as :
- reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
If we look at the worldly definition of “worship” we see it’s a reverence for the Divine, an expressing of that reverence, and practice. Reverence is having deep respect. In our culture this word is often bantered about but little practiced. Practice, is synonymous with sports and exercise. It’s also something you do with almost any type of activity such as art, music, dance, and the likes. Practice is taking something you know and doing it and a becoming proficient at it. Apply the lesson you have been taught. So how’s your practice going in the Christian faith? What does worship look like for the Christian? Are you worshiping “weakly” or “weekly”?
Worship is something we do in a public group/corporate setting and something we do individually. As a Christian, it is another thing that should be part of our Christian DNA. Worship is more than just getting together with a group of others whenever we feel like, in a familiar building or space, and singing a few songs, hearing someone say some words, and going back home until we hit repeat the following week or month or Easter or Christmas. Worship is putting into practice what we have learned about the Triune God.
Unlike earthly teachers and coaches in sports and activities, we have Jesus Christ as our example for worship and how to practice and revere. We learn from Jesus by being connected to the words He left for us in the Bible. Jesus and the Bible are our syllabus for this life as a Christian and we have much to learn about Worship. So what did Jesus do in the area of worship? Since to be a disciple means to follow the master, we should look to see what Jesus did when it came to going to church. Here are a few statements on whether or not Jesus went to church.
Matt 12:9 Going on from that place, [Jesus] went into their synagogue
Matt 13:54 Coming to his hometown, [Jesus] began teaching the people in their synagogue
Matt 21:14 The blind and the lame came to [Jesus] at the temple
Mark 1:21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue
Mark 3:1 Another time [Jesus] went into the synagogue
Luke 4:16 [Jesus] went to Nazareth . . . and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom
Jesus went to church. If we are to be Christians – Christ ones – followers of Jesus, we are to be in church.
God’s word also says: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23–25, NIV84) Did you catch it? Meeting/Worshiping together encourages the others that have come to meet God. When we give up meeting weekly, we are cheating others of the full worship and joy that God has designed for us to help strengthen one another on in the faith. These times are hard and we need God and one another to keep encouraged.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11–13, NIV84).
We have been given people on this earth to help us in our life of Worship and we should give thanks and praise for those God has called into the vocation of earthly leaders (Pastors and Ministers of Music) in our churches. They have the tremendous joy and responsibility of weekly giving us God’s word in speech, study, and song. They have been entrusted to give us the full word of God for all times and all places. They are part of the lifeline of our Christian Discipleship and Life in the area of Worship. They are our coaches in the journey of life. To be strong in practice, it takes more than just an occasional visit or nodding acquaintance with the playbook to be proficient. If one practices poorly, there are weak results. If one practices daily they see positive results. Often times you get out of something proportionate to what you have put into it. Worship is no different. The more you put into preparing and practicing worship, the more you will be ready to hear God’s message.
How do I prepare for worship you might ask? Spend some time in prayer and study before walking into cooperate worship. Ask God to give you eyes to see Him and ears to hear from Him in all that is going on in words and music. Just like you practice hard for an exam, job training, music recital, or sporting event where you will be an actively participant, put all your heart, mind, soul, and body into the effort. Be dripping wet with the sweat of eager expectation that God will meet you in Worship, just as He has promised. “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.” (Psalm 22:3–5, NIV84)
We are blessed each week to have God minister to us in corporate Worship. Yes, we have the only God that reaches down to His people. The True Triune God, Father, Son- Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit, visit us when the Word is preached and sung. But the greatest act of Divine Service comes at the table of Christ’s forgiveness and mercy. God wants us to know that He is present with us now and forever and that our sins are forgiven. He tells us that in receiving His very Body and Blood at the Lord’s table. We are assured that our sins are forgiven, we are made new creatures, and God lives in us. That is communion!
Worship is communion with God. It’s relationship. It’s something we are called upon to do with our family, the others who believe in the Triune God. It’s how we live out our faith in our daily lifestyles. From the way we serve Him by serving others. From the way we greet and treat others in Jesus’ name. It’s in the way we give thanks and praise to the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Worship is ceaseless and is our lifeblood to the Lord. As we would no more than cut off blood supply to our brain and vital organs, let us not cut off the Lifeline of our faith and family by cutting off our corporate and individual worship. May we truly show and give reverence to God, while joining and encouraging others in the faith, and then carrying it out to others in our daily lives as we practice a life of Worship here and into eternity. Let’s face it, heaven is all about being in the presence of the King in worship and praise for all eternity. No better time to start practicing, than now.