March 4, 2016
You Are Invited…to Worship
By Skip Heitzig
I have worshiped in a variety of settings, from dirt floors in India and the Philippines to Africa and other parts of Asia to the great cathedrals of Europe. I've discovered that it matters much less how one worships and more that one worships—with true, authentic worship from the heart.
But what I've also found is that the evangelical world puts very little emphasis on worship. I think that's why A.W. Tozer called worship the missing jewel in the evangelical church. We know that it's very easy for worship to grow stale. It can just sort of become a yawn session—"Yeah, okay. Let's get on with the real stuff of the service." But worship is the imperative.
As I see, it the term worship has been corrupted over time. Most people see worship as an event—you come Sunday morning and have a worship service. But you can still sit in a worship service and have little, if anything, to do with real worship. It's very possible to put your mind in neutral and not even be engaged heavenward. So worship is not just an event or an activity. It's far more.
Nor is worship simply an emotion or a feeling that we work up. The reason I say that is because some of us still believe that we haven't truly worshiped until we've worked ourselves to a certain level emotionally and psychologically—almost a swoon. Now, worship may involve our feelings, and it ought to, but not necessarily.
At its most basic level, worship literally means to declare worth, to make a statement about the value of something or someone else. I've broken down the definition into four parts. First of all, according to the Bible, worship is our response to God. First John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us." He acted first; we respond to His act.
Second, worship is the proper response to God. In Romans 12, when Paul says we ought to give our bodies over as living sacrifices to the Lord, he wrote that this "is your reasonable service" (v. 1). Worship is the smartest, wisest response you could make. It's the proper response.
Third, worship is the proper response to God from the heart—from the core, the center of our being. Jesus said to the woman at the well of Samaria that the Father is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23). So, it's the proper response to God that comes from the core of our being—our hearts.
And finally, worship is the proper response to God from the heart whereby we place God above everyone and everything else in life. It's not that we just declare that God is worthy. Jesus said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). This means that if we're to worship God, we must place Him above hobbies, entertainment, education, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and children. Worship isn't just a once-a-week activity under the guise of a "worship service." It is not a feeling that we conjure up. It is a lifestyle of adoration where we declare quite appropriately that God is above everything—and everyone—else in my life.
So, you can have a great time of worship on Sunday, but how do you live on Monday? How do you live with your spouse, with your kids, at work? If we truly believe that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (see Philippians 2:9-11) and that all of history's marching toward that event, why would we not want to voluntarily bow, surrender, submit, and worship Him now? Not just in an event, not just with a feeling—but in a lifestyle.
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