How not to worship

What is worship? I so often get asked this question. We often use that word of singing. But is worship simply singing? Is worship the music in the background? Or is it something we do only Sunday morning?

Yes, that is a form of worship or part of it. However, worship is so much more than just singing on Sunday morning.

Here are a few thoughts on how we ought NOT to worship in church.

1. “I worshiped God because somehow, when I raised my hands, God blessed me!”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I raise hands as well. Bowing our heads, lifting our hands, or kneeling down before the Lord can remind us that we don’t have it together as an act of humility and a stance of awe of what Christ has done for all of us (Acts 20:36; 1 Cor. 14:25; 1 Tim 2:8).

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However, sadly when speaking of worship, it is often more focused on our feelings and achievements for God.

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Worship is ascribing ultimate value in worth of the Holy One. It is a robust Scripture of blazing passion for the glory of God that drives theology, that shapes our doxology. Worship is theocentric – that is, it surrounds the person of Christ and is driven by the gospel.

It is the response of the head, heart and hands as a whole person in light of the incomprehensible glorious God in His triune glory in Spirit and in Truth. We worship the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. Therefore, in whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we do it for the glory of God.

2. “Sunday morning was worshipful, because there was my favorite song that had that special chorus line.”

The cross was an emotional event that took place, and believers are responding to that very event. Therefore, worship involves our emotions. How can we sing of God’s praise to the glorious redeemer and not be emotional at all?

Yet, at the same time, if we as Christians are not careful about this very topic, we can create this idea that God is somehow more present when music is being played than when it is not. This false dichotomy creates an allusion that somehow worship is more possible with musical instruments playing, that God somehow is more accessible and is dependent upon what kind of atmosphere men create. This isn’t true.

When we instead sing biblically sound, gospel informed lyrics, our affections for God can be deepened.

3. “The songs were a bit off this morning, because Suzy didn’t sing that solo line.”

We live in a self-centered consumeristic culture that makes us feel a certain entitlement from God by our actions. Let me explain. You may hear comments such as the following: “The pastor’s sermon seemed long today”; or “I really liked the way Tom prayed”; etc.

We evaluate the quality of our time based on the actions of others, not our own. If we are not careful here, this consumeristic mentality can drain believers into a downward spiral of self-pity or morph into a prideful stance that is far from the gospel of Jesus.

If that is you, we must repent of the sinful stance and say, “God, do whatever you need to do to deal with my pride in my life.” And seek forgiveness from Him.

4. “Oh, worship was super cause it was the lighting that made the cool effect of excitement.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I like lights. However, so often in reference to drawing near to God, there is no mention of Christ atoning finished work on the cross. D.A. Carson spoke a grave concern on this topic: namely, spiritual mysticism.

Carson reminds us of this important truth: “Objectively, what brings us into the presence of God is the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”

At the end of the day, if all that we can remember was how the oohs and aahs of the cool guitar riffs and how awesome the smoke machine effects were, then most likely the people were more emotionally moved rather than spiritually changed. 

We are always worshiping
something or someone

We were created for this one purpose. For the chief end of men is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This is by essence who we are as humans! Louie Giglio said it so well: “Worship is simply giving God back his breath.”

We all are in a sense worshipers.

The questions are, Who or what are you worshiping? Who are you giving allegiance to? For worship in the wrong direction is called idolatry. We believe that King Jesus is worth everything that we have ever needed or longed for. In Him, we find true and real eternal satisfaction in worshiping our everlasting Savior.

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