Worship is a confusing thing to many, and quite frankly, we the church have not really done a very good job at unpacking what worship truly is. Most associate worship as the musical part of the service, and is typically followed by teaching, and maybe some more music. While music is worship, so is the teaching. So is the taking up of an offering. Worship is also in communion or the Lord’s Supper. Worship is the very thing mankind was created to do. Every single soul on Earth worships. The question is, who or what are we worshiping? Let’s take a look at why we worship.
The word “worship”, is secularly defined by Merriam Webster as “to honor or revere a divine being or supernatural power” or “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion”. If we take this definition, we see that worship is a response. Reverence, respect, honor and devotion are all responses to something that warrants such a response. If we examine the creation account in Genesis, we see that Adam and Eve worshiped God just by being in His presence. They respected his power. Even as the serpent persuades them to disobey God, you hear Eve’s respect for God’s commands by telling the serpent that they must not eat of the tree of life. Obeying God’s commands is an act of worship. Before the fall, the garden of Eden was God’s dwelling place, and God put “man in the garden of Eden” (Gen 2:15). Why did God put man there? To care for it, to work the garden, and to have fellowship with his creation. God saw the good in his creation. He saw the beauty, and being made in God’s image, so did Adam and Eve. Their very lives and the world in which they lived all declared the glory of God.
Our original purpose was simply to be with God, and to worship God with our lives. Though after the fall, man was separated from God’s presence, but the mandate for us to worship God with our lives never changed. Through generations, promises, and covenants you can see God’s plan for restoring that relationship. In Romans 1:20, Paul tells us that even to this day, that God’s divine nature has been clearly seen and understood through what he has made. Yet time and time again, mankind finds ways to fail at our calling to live lives that honor the Lord. Thankfully, through Jesus Christ, we are no longer bound by our failures, but through faith and grace, we are restored to a rightful relationship with God and therefore we should strive to honor God in all that we do, just as we were created to do.
Remember the definition of worship above, about worship being a response? The Apostle Paul embodied this idea of worshiping out of sheer reverence for God in Romans 11:33-35 “Oh, the depth of the riches, both of wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid?”. Paul is saying, oh my gosh, I cannot even comprehend how powerful, and marvelous our all knowing God is!!! Paul’s song here is of reverence and awe. Check out what Paul says next, keeping in mind Romans 1:20 from earlier. “For from him and through him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36). So the creation of the world screams of his existence, (Rom 1:20) and so everything that has been created, which includes us, was created to give God glory, aka worship!!! (Rom 11:36) Let me solve the biggest question the world has ever faced. What is the meaning of life? It is to worship God!!! Plain and simple.
How do we do that? Well I am glad you asked! Romans 11 ends with verse 36 and Romans 12 continues the conversation, with “Therefore” (which always means because of what was just previously said) “in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship” (Rom 12:1 emphasis mine). Notice the words I put in bold. Urge- Paul’s assertion here tells us that we have to choose to live a life of sacrifice. In our sinful state, this does not happen naturally. We have to fight to “put off the old self and put on our new self” (Col 3:9b-10), and doing this is our living sacrifice and this constant effort is our true worship.
So why do we worship? Because God created everything, and all things are by him and for him. Therefore, it is our reverent response to present our bodies (our whole self) as a living sacrifice (a continual act of worship). Music is a means to which we express our worship, and musical worship is utterly biblical, but the heart and passion behind musical worship is shaped and molded by the way we live our lives, our “true worship”.