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When you think of “worship” what comes to mind? For many Christians, “worship” is that singing thing that happens at church before the sermon. But that may not be the heart of worship, especially when you look at what the Bible has to say about it.

I recently read two articles about worship in Christianity Today magazine that opened my eyes to some aspects of what it means to worship God, and reinforced some thoughts that I have been having about it. Below are some quotes from the two articles. I hope they speak to your heart as much as they did to mine.

The first article is called Worship God at All Times. If Necessary, Use Music.

To be human is to worship. (Check out Psalm 150:6)

Not only is music rarely associated with worship in the New Testament, but the Pentateuch is altogether silent on music associated with tabernacle worship. All of this highlights our skewed preoccupation with and conflict over music, and raises serious questions about our understanding of worship in the first place.

(The Hebrew word for worship) refers to a physical gesture of prostration out of respect and homage before a superior. We cannot speak of biblical worship without starting with this physical gesture of submission and homage before God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Paul’s instructions concerning “speaking to/admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:15-21,Col 3:12-17) occur in the context of appeals to let all of life – rather than just worship services – be the context of worshipful living.

The First Testament perspective, which consistantly emphasizes that living faithfully throughout the week is a prerequisite to acceptable liturgical worship. Picking up the motif of worship as an audience with God, Psalm 24 asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” This is a metaphor for “Whose worship will be acceptable to God?” The psalmist says nothing about music or the quality of any other element of liturgical performance.

Performance of worship rituals is meaningless and even repugnant to God if the worshiper’s life is not an expression of devotion.

True worship involves reverential acts of submission and homage before the divine ruler in response to his gracious revelation of himself and in keeping with his revealed will.

(The article above is from Daniel I. Block’s book For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship and reprinted in CT)

The quotes that follow are from an article titled The Temptations of Evangelical Worship by Mark Galli.

The Westminster Catechism says our chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

True worship is to seek justice for the oppressed. But in the end, ethics never replaces adoration in the prophets but is seen as a necessary complement to true worship.

It is a constant temptation (for worship leaders) to replace God with technique, to seek not the Holy of Holies but mostly devotional exhilaration.

When we sing asking for God’s glory, we are not asking to know the fear of God and the humble suffering that life in him entails. No, if we’re honest with ourselves, we mostly want a good religious feeling, We really aren’t interested fully in what God’s glory is and what it might do to us.

As much as worship leaders strive to keep their egos in check, they are the first to admit that the very ambiance of contemporary worship makes it nearly impossibel for people to not think of them as rock stars – of worship, yes, but rock stars nonetheless.

Rethinking how we do worship begins, then, with keeping the focus on God as he is in all his complexity (not how we want him to be) from beginning to end.

The quotes above gave me a more informed view of worship and caused me to rethink what true worship of God entails. Hopefully we can all move from the limiting and constricting idea of worship as something that happens only on Sunday mornings and incorporate it into every aspect of our lives. Let’s make worship a lifestyle that impacts every moment of everyday, rather than a once a week event. That’s the way God created us because he loves us and wants us to be happy.

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