Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 6, 2010

Why all the fuss about worship?

ESSENTIAL ASPECTS OF THE CHURCH
This is an excerpt from a book on the Church that I am working on. Let me know what you think.

WHY ALL THE FUSS ABOUT WORSHIP?

Remember the definition of worship I gave before?

Worship takes place when those who are born again come by faith into the presence of God in love, respect and wondering amazement with the exclusive desire to please the Lord.

There are a number of reasons why we should practice worshipping in this manner.

The first and most important reason is that God is God. By his very nature, God is to be worshipped. Revelation 4 and 5 contain beautiful descriptions of how God is worshipped in heaven. These descriptions fit the criteria outlined above: worshippers in the presence of God, with love, respect, wondering amazement. There can be no doubt that the exclusive desire of the worshippers in heaven is to please God. Notice how God is in the foreground in the descriptions. Even when reference is made to his works (Revelation 4.11) or the people He saved (Revelation 5.9 and 10), the emphasis is on “you” (the Lord) rather than on the work or the people.

Worshiping God is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves. When we enter into the presence of God with this desire to truly worship Him, the result for ourselves is always joy. Psalms 16.11 expresses this quite clearly: “your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure for ever.” (TEV) This is no wonder, since we were created to worship God. In worship we find true fulfillment for ourselves, and the result is joy in abundance. It is also a fact that we experience a divine work of transformation as we worship God. The very act of worship presupposes transparency in the presence of God. And it is when we approach God with this transparency that the transformation spoken of by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3.18 takes place: “All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.” (TEV) True worship is also a prerequisite to cultivating the kind of sensitivity that is necessary for the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There is one more reason why we should concentrate on developing the ability and practice of true worship. This reason has been mentioned above. Jesus Himself specified that this kind of worship is necessary. Anyone who wishes to please God is touched by the words of Jesus in John 4.23: that God wants to be worshipped.

It is very necessary in any discussion of worship to pay close attention to the qualifications of such worship mentioned by Jesus in the very next verse. A literal rendering of this verse (“in spirit and in truth”) does what literal renderings usually do, and that is to obscure the meaning. What Jesus was saying here is that true worship should focus on God for who He really is, and that such worship is possible only through the participation of the Holy Spirit.

Worship in the sense that we are talking about here, presupposes that we use language in order to please God. As our minds are directed towards God we express our thoughts and feelings about Him with the exclusive desire to please Him. As we do this, the Holy Spirit directs our thoughts to God and inspires us to open our hearts towards God and to offer to Him our adoration and awe. The best way to direct our thoughts to God is to exercise our minds contemplating his Word. In doing this, we prepare the way for the Holy Spirit to lead us in worship. In this manner, both the Word and Holy Spirit are involved in our worship.

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Responses

  1. Can’t agree more! Unfortunately there is some Christians who have the perception that, to be able to worship God, “you must come into the presence of God”. I am not sure what is meant by that, but for a born again Christian, I think, it is not possible to come into the presence of God, because He is already in us! It is not necessary to go to a church service or meeting to get in the presence of God, we bring the presence of God to the service or meeting! As in Ps 16:11, “Your presence fill me … ”

    Therefore all born again Christians should worship the Lord continuously every second of our lives. We can worship Him even for every wink and every breath we take. That is primarily the purpose of all Christians.

    I will also appreciate any comments on this?

    • Thanks Jimmy for this very helpful comment. I agree with you that God is in the believer. I should probably change the definition to:

      Worship takes place when those who are born again focus by faith on the presence of God in them in love, respect and wondering amazement with the exclusive desire to please the Lord.

      I also agree that our whole life is worship. In this blog I am just focusing on the one aspect of worship. That is, the specific act of worship , when we concentrate only on God. I believe this is important to enable us to dedicate our whole life to God in worship.

  2. I agree that the exclusive aim of worship is to please God. In this ‘big’ sense it includes all the honor and glory due God – Father Son & Holy Spirit and also includes the enactment of God’s love, justice, mercy & kindness in the world. I was so struck when recently read Is.58:6-7 how much God actually hates empty and hypocritical worship:
    6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

    7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe him,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
    AMEN!

  3. Thank you for this comment, Gerrit. As I said in the first blog on December 29:

    “The whole life of the believer is an act of worship towards God. Every thing we do ought to be directed to God, and should be intended to bring glory to Him. There is also a liturgical sense of worship. The whole church service should be directed to God. There is another, specific sense of worship and that is the one that I want to pay attention to now.”

    Your comment underlines the fact that our whole life is firstly an act of worship. It follows that everything else in our lives should be in accordance with our worship.

    However, the aspect of focused worship can never be neglected, and that is what I am focusing on in this blog. It is necessary for us to devote time of worship, where we focus solely on God. This enables us to live in a worshipful manner, which will undoubtedly influence our whole behaviour.

  4. For me the “in spirit and truth” part is crucial and maye this is not 100% theologically correct but a practical application i feel is that we should worship through our lifestyle – how we deal with others, how we work and through everything do it as for the Lord – not only in singing songs etc.
    Maybe there is a fuss about worship because society has in some instances become so far removed from a lifestyle of worship that there is an exaggerated emphasis on worship now due to a need felt to suddently try to overcompensate for the moving away from the lifestyle…. I don’t know but that is the sense I get in some of the circles in which I move and live. Interesting topic!

    • Dankie, Soraja, vir die kommentaar. Ek stem met jou saam dat ons hele lewe aanbidding is. Met hierdie reeks spits ek my toe op die spesifieke aspek van aanbidding wat te doene het met die “toegewyde” aanbidding, d.w.s. wanneer mens niks anders doen as om te aanbid nie.

  5. I agree with you Veroni, that focused liturgical worship should influence our lifestyle. I’m just concerned that we, especially those of us who live in a self-centered society, are more centered on feeling ‘good’ about our communal Sunday worship of God than making a Jesus-like difference in society for the other six days. How do we make sure that communal worship of God translates into God-directed action during the week? That is a big challenge for me.

  6. Well written — and woven so well in what you wrote is this understanding that we bring all of who we are into worship: intellect, will, emotions, body, etc.

    I like your definition better than mine — mine was simply, “Worship is our reponse to being in the presence of God,” (looking at Philippians 2 where one day every knee will bow). My follow-up was simply, “Liturgy is the shape of that response.”

    There is the truth of who He is and the truth of who we are — which leads to the wonder of the relationship He purchased for us and how He transforms us into ever-increasing glory.

    Within this relataionship is an aspect of sacrifice (which, I think also speaks to the “truth” part of worship in Spirit and truth) — which so much defines the worship in Leviticus. The sacrifice of Jesus which enables us to enter His presence as well as the sacrifice of our will (like the whole burnt offering) — laying down what we think is best and what we want Him to do for us — in order to worship the Lord for who He is. If I don’t lay down my will, I end up worshiping the God who meets my expectations — which means I end up worshiping my will and desires and not the unpredictable and sovereign Lord.

    I do agree that worship — being in His presence — transforms us: how can we be in His presence and not be changed? I love the line from 1 John 3 — when we see Him we shall be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. If that transformation isn’t happening on some level, then I would wonder whether there is actually worship taking place.

    I so enjoy your writing and thoughts.

    • Thank you for the meaningful comment, Ken. I posted a new blog yesterday.


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