In the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing that our church, as a whole, doesn’t get very excited about congregational worship.
It is something that seems to be important to the church. There are two staff members, Aaron and Steph whose entire job is about preparing for worship and worshipping. We have worship every Sunday at church and we now have worship nights every Sunday for Fusion.
Clearly worship is important to the church and to Fusion.
But is it important to you?
Most of the congregation isn’t singing and raising their hands during worship. So why are people not worshipping?
I think that the reason isn’t necessarily that we think that it’s uncool or that we’re nervous about what people will think, I do think that these are a part of the reason but I think that if we dig deeper, the true reason is that we don’t understand why we are worshipping or who we are worshipping.
This is why Lanier, Aaron, Steph, and I talk so much before and during worship, because it is something that needs to be taught. This is why I wanted to write this blog about worship. It isn’t something that comes naturally to us.
So I wanted to start by looking at what worship looks like in the bible and how it has changed overtime, from the Old to the New Testament.
The Roots of Worship
In the Old testament, God decided that his presence would reside in the temple. There were many things that God asked his people to do in order to come into his presence, things like burnt offerings, grain offerings, and peace offerings, as well as sin and trespass offerings. They sacrificed many animals, fruits, and harvests.
These things seem weird and specific. But I think that a reason that God did this was so that they could show their love and to show obedience.
God is the object of our worship so He and He alone has the right to determine how we are to worship Him. And at the time, he wanted them to express their worship outwardly through actively doing things and killing and giving away important things in their lives.
Today, we worship in New Testament worship. We look back at Jesus and his death on the cross. Because he died for our sins, we don’t need to do anything to atone for our sins. We don’t need to kill any animals or burn any incense, although we can if we want to (burn incense, not burn animals; please please don’t do that!). Through His death, we have been granted access into God’s presence without having to do these rituals. Through faith in him, we are now temples of the Holy Spirit, so God resides in us.
Most of the ways that we worship today are inward. We don’t have to go somewhere and perform a task. We worship out of affection. Psalm 95 explains this well:
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” – Psalm 95: 1-7
The writer explains that we are to come sing, make a joyful noise, bow, kneel, and all of these acts of worship FOR He is a great king, creator, shepherd. We have these outward expressions because of who He is.
I heard Tim Keller give an example of this that I want to share with you. He said:
There was a woman that was given a broach by her great-grandmother. She decided to take the broach to an appraiser. She gave it to him and he looked really close at it for a while. He used a magnifying glass to look at things like the clarity and cut of the diamond. After a few minutes of looking close at it, his eyes got large and his jaw dropped. He realized that it was rare and worth millions of dollars.
Because of his realization of the worth of the piece, he had an outward response, his eyes getting large and his jaw dropping. This is how we should worship, outwardly, from the knowledge and emotions that we have because of the realization of his worth. I’ve heard it said that the word worship comes from the old english word, Worthship. It means to give something worth.
John 4 illustrates this well by saying:
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him MUST worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24
He uses the word “must”. It is not a suggestion, it is a command. That worship is only worship when it is in spirit and in truth. This passage says that we Must worship Him in spirit and in truth. John Piper explains this idea well in his quote:
“Worship must be vital and real in the heart, and worship must rest on a true perception of God. There must be spirit and there must be truth . . . Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers . . . . On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship.”
We need to worship in truth because if we are just going off of our emotions, they will fail us and we will have a hard time worshipping if hard or distracting things are happening like having an argument on the way to church.
We also need to worship in spirit because love without passion and emotions isn’t true love.
Our goal is to be a true worshipper, to worship in spirit and in truth. The worship department at TCC has the letters KFD on the wall. It is the goal of our ministry: to Know, Feel, and then Do. To worship in truth, spirit and then outwardly.
We want to do this on a Sunday morning but even more than that, we want to do this daily. If we are true worshippers throughout the week, we will be true worshippers on a Sunday Morning, responding out of the knowledge that we gained in our personal studies from the week before. We will be responding out of emotions towards these truths, and because of this knowledge and emotion, we will respond outwardly through singing and raising our hands, For God is a great king, creator, and shepherd. For a God Worthy of our Worthship.
We, as humans, are always worshipping something. Whether that be a guy or girl, our popularity, our friends, we don’t want to seem uncool, or it could even be comfort. We just want to sit there and be comfortable. If you find yourself doing this, I challenge you to see what in your life that you are giving worth to. And my question for you is, can this thing that you are giving worth to stand up under the weight of your worship?
Only God is worthy.
“FOR great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. FOR all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.” -Psalm 96:4-5