What is worship? Officially the word comes from “Worth-ship”, in other words giving respect or attention to something or someone of worth. To worship means to love and adore, or to hold in great reverence. For those of us raised in the church, the word seems to be inevitably tied to some church service or function and therefore more of a noun than a verb. Still some think to worship means to sing or take part in some religious service. I guess all of these definitions are correct in one way or another but I believe when we worship we’re doing more than just singing or attending but instead giving. Giving of ourselves completely.
According to Romans 12: 1-2, we’re to give of ourselves sacrificially as ‘living’ sacrifices to the Lord, because it is our ‘reasonable’ act of worship. These two words intrigue me. Usually a sacrifice is killed. Laid on an altar and put to death. So what is a ‘living’ sacrifice? Perhaps someone willing to place himself on the altar of the world and give their lives for God’s purposes. Actually, I think it might be easier to give your life in death. A difficult decision no doubt but a single decision nonetheless. A ‘living’ sacrifice is given daily to the Lord through every choice and everything we do. A choice we have to make over and over again to follow Christ. What about the word ‘reasonable’? Is it reasonable to give yourself as a sacrifice living or dead? The only way that it could be is that Christ has given of Himself for you. He gave up Heaven and His position as it’s Prince to be human, to be humbled, to be crucified. In that case, the word reasonable makes complete sense. It seems at that point that it could even read something like. “Therefore offer your bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord for it is your OBVIOUS act of worship, or your ONLY act of worship, or your RIGHTFUL act of worship. I think the apostle Paul here was being kind in using the word ‘reasonable’. Bottom line is – how could we consider doing anything else after what Christ has done for us?
Worship is singing – singing from a heart that has known the bondage of sin yet has been set free. Worship is giving – giving everything we have physically, financially, emotionally because Christ’s everything was given for us. Worship is attending – attending services to grow in Christ, to be accountable to His people, to become the disciple He wants you to be, and to lead others in knowing Him. Worship is reverence and respect – not only in a church building or service but mainly and most importantly, through our lives. Loving God with more than words, but with life.
How we experience it is something else. Musically we experience worship as an overflow from a life of worship. To just sing a song that proclaims a love for Christ or devotion to Him rings hollow without a real and genuine commitment to Christ. But if that commitment is real, if that Love for Christ is genuine then the words of the songs come from a real place of love, not just words rolling off our lips. Then we experience the full purpose of worship in music and our words are true. I think God can only then begin to move in our lives when we’ve come to that honest place of worship. Only then does He allow His spirit to minister to us in a way that changes us, that motivates us, that blesses us.
More important than music is how worship (the giving of ourselves through respect, and reverence and devotion to the Lord) helps us to have the right posture before God. One that acknowledges God as the first and the last, all-important Father that He is. It reminds us that we live for and by Him, not of ourselves or for ourselves. It helps us to focus attention on something greater than ourselves and encourages us to walk in a way that honors the only One worthy of worship.