We live in a time in the arc of the Church where the word worship is often used to talk about an industry, a platform, an opportunity, a type of music, or a career path. If we are not careful, the more we use the word in this way, the more likely we are to debase and profane, forget, or excuse as someone else’s calling that which we were created to do.
You see worship is so much more than the fifteen or twenty minutes of music before the sermon on Sunday. It’s a lifestyle! Merriam Webster defines lifestyle as, “the typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture.” Whether we realize it or not, worship is our typical way of life because it is what we were created to do. Every one of us worships something or someone every moment of our lives. Because worship is our purpose. It’s not just a Christian purpose. It’s a human purpose. It’s in our wiring.
In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight… to the praise of his glorious grace.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
We were made to know God and love him in response. That is worship.
Pastor Louie says it this way, “Worship is our response, both personally and corporately, to God—for who He is and what He has done, expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.”
God reveals who He is—His love, grace, kindness, goodness, righteousness, holiness, justice, patience, and compassion and we respond. But we get to decide if our response is measured and calculated or abandoned and undignified. The measure of our response will grow or shrink in direct proportion to our view of God because worship is proportional.
A high view of God results in extravagant worship. But lose sight of His greatness and “Godness” and we will spend our days asking the created to satiate what can only be satisfied by the Creator Himself.
The good news for us is that worship begins with God. A response by definition is a reply, to say or do something in return. It insinuates previous actions or revelations. In worship, God reveals and we respond.
When Abraham encounters God, he is called to obedient sacrifice, an act of worship.
When Moses leads the people out of Egypt, it is so they can worship the Lord, and Miriam leads them in worship.
When Judah is being attacked by the Moabites and Ammonites, Jehoshaphat sends out a choir before the army and they worship.
When Job loses everything, he falls to his knees in worship.
When Elijah calls down fire from heaven, it is an act of worship.
When David dances before the Lord, it is worship.
When Hannah hands over her baby son to the Lord, she sings a song of worship.
When Mary knows that she is carrying Jesus, she worships.
When the wise men greet the baby Jesus, they worship.
When Simeon sees the infant Jesus, he worships.
When the widow gives her mite, all she has, as an offering to the Lord, she worships.
When the sinful woman brings her most valuable possession and pours it out on the feet of Jesus in an expression of love, she worships.
When the disciples realize that Jesus is Lord, they worship him.
When Paul and Silas are imprisoned for casting an evil spirit out of a woman, they worship.
Each of these encounters with God happens when God shows up in the seemingly mundane routine of life. And only one takes place in a church service. Worship is woven into the hearts of God’s people. It cannot and should not be contained to a church building or a job title. It’s a lifestyle. But so often we are missing God in the ordinary because we fill every moment with distraction and idolatry. God is revealing but we are failing to respond.
We have substituted an intimate relationship with Jesus for simply orbiting around the things of Jesus. We are spending our time binging the next best Netflix series or watching endless TikTok videos while the very words of God are at our fingertips. Worship is proportional to our view of God. So if our everyday lives aren’t filled with adoration for the King of Kings and obedience to His commands, maybe we need to examine who we believe Jesus to be. Do we declare His glory on Sunday but deny His Lordship on Monday?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
The Greek word for worship in this verse is latreia (lat-ri’-ah). It is the second most commonly used word to describe worship in the New Testament. And it means, “service.” The extravagant, proportional worship we are talking about is not simply raising your hands at the pinnacle of your favorite worship song. It is a service. Paul is saying when we see what it cost Jesus to bring us from death to life, how could we do anything less than serve him for the rest of our lives with all of our lives.
And that’s why, lastly, true worship propels.
I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Our songs mean nothing if we spend our lives preoccupied with ourselves and fail to see that God is about the salvation of the world.
Worship is born out of our relationship with God. When we see Him, we will be changed. He will mold our hearts to His. As we empty ourselves He will fill us up with His life. We will be transformed into His likeness. And we will be compelled and propelled to love and serve those He puts in our path daily.
God’s heart is for His people. Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-39, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
In other words, this is how we practically live out our worship. In our offices, at our homes, taking our kids to school, at the grocery store, when we’re out to eat, hanging out with our friends—with every breath we love God and love people.
Tim Hughes puts it this way, “God empowers and equips us to make a difference and in true worship we worry less about how we feel or whether we’re being blessed and instead prepare to be led away from ourselves to the place where we are desperate to see the transformation of society. And there, serving the poor and sharing our best with those clothed in pain and despair we discover that Jesus is already there.”