“Put it this way: if your idea of God, if your idea of the salvation offered in Christ, is vague or remote, your idea of worship will be fuzzy and ill-formed. The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. That’s why theology and worship belong together. The one isn’t just a headtrip; the other isn’t just emotion.”—N.T. Wright
I think this is maybe one of the most fuzzy things about the way we do church today.
I could see coming to church for the first time, being confused by worship– especially modern worship, with, sometimes, choosedly, its bright lights, smoke machines, and people with their hands in the air or falling to their knees, etc.
I can imagine walking into that space and feeling uncomfortable, or out of place.
So, in a way, these words are my heart are to the people who have come to check out church without really knowing much about it, and left feeling confused rather than blessed by worship, by talking a little bit about what the Word says worship is.
1. The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13
God Himself takes “religion” out of worship here by speaking against rules. If our worship is just singing because it’s what we’re told to do, our praises just a going-through-the-motions, we miss the heart of worship.
If our hearts are seeking His present Spirit, though, and we’re giving Him praise, though we’re weak– every one of us– our worship is meaningful and “we will find Him [when we seek]” Matt 7:7.
2. “Worship the Lord with gladness: come before Him with joyful songs” Psalm 100:1.
True Worship is joyful. While awing and sometimes overcoming, His Spirit causes deep joy. To praise Him and know He is near.
3. Worship is not about what “we get”, but about the praise He gets. Hence the word “worship,” defined as the expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. If you’ve heard someone say, “Ah, I don’t get much out of singing worship,” remember that worship is it about what you get out of it. It is a duty, heard by your Creator, Saviour, Perfect Son of God, and an act of praise for HIM. Your soul absolutely benefits from this, as you grow closer to Jesus in this time, but that is not the purpose of your worship.
Know that you are so loved by a God who desires relationship with you. And part of that relationship is praising and thanking Him for who He is and all He’s done, seeking the things of Him along with simply His presence.