What is worship?

If you were to have a church service in a glass church building and there were thousands of people who did not speak your language or know your customs at what point would they know that you are worshipping God? This question was asked to a large group of young people at a camp meeting.
The speaker brought to attention the issue of worship. The topic of worship has been debated for many generations. The speaker’s question drives home a great point, what is worship and what does it look like?
There are as many definitions of worship as there are styles. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition defines worship as 1. Reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also an act of expressing such reverence. John Piper in his book “Desiring God,” defines worship as, “…gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth.” (Piper, p.84) The two definitions are different in that the first is very impersonal. The definition provided by Piper focuses on the person being worshipped where as the Merriam Webster focuses on the action. The definition of worship in layman’s terms can be understood as an outward expression of an inward attitude of the heart.
When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, they discussed the issue of worship. When confronted by Jesus concerning her eternal state the Samaritan woman questioned Him on worship. The Samaritan woman wanted to know what place was the true place of worship. The Samaritans believed that Mt. Gerizim was the Holy Place and the Jews believed that it was Jerusalem. Jesus answered her but not in the way she was expecting. He told her the hour will come when no one will worship the Father in either place. He went on to tell her that God seeks those to worship Him in Spirit and truth. If we are to worship we must do so in Spirit and in Truth, which begins with being in Christ.
Having defined worship, let us move on to what it looks like. Worship involves more than going to church, singing songs, praying or giving offerings. All of these things are used in corporate worship but to restrict worship to these things is very confining. If worship is an outward expression of an inward attitude of the heart, then worship can and does take place everywhere as well as everyday! This means that when I encounter frustrating moments because an expectation isn’t met, then I am engaged in worship. As I outwardly express my frustration I am performing worship. In these moments, the question is who and what is the object of my worship? It is easy to sit in a church service and worship God, but to take it to the daily ins and outs of life is hard. The object of worship in corporate worship is God and rightly so. When we are out of the church house and in everyday life, it is easy to worship self instead of being Christ-like. The next time conflict comes your way and things are not going the way you want, ask yourself, “Who am I worshipping?” To worship God in Spirit and in Truth we must accept the free gift of salvation offered to us in Christ. When we become the child of God our heart is made new. It is at this point that we are able to glorify God in the moments of frustration and in the moments of insurmountable struggles.

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