THE ESSENCE OF WORSHIP

Presently working on a book about worship. The context is Christian worship of the one true God, Jehovah. What is the essence of worship? Among far too many followers of Christ, it is about feeling good or what God has done for “me.” It is well understood that the reason many people first attend church is because they want to feel good. This isn’t a bad thing. We live in a painful, fallen, and sinful world that so often hurts. Life can truly be painful.

And it is often said that the church is a hospital for broken people; that a part of the purpose of the church is to provide the only healing available from the hopelessness and pain of our lives.

This is not a bad thing. When we finally figure out how broken we are, we turn to the church – to God – as the only reasonable answer. We must remember though, that the church is filled with broken people (we all are broken people). As we are reminded in Romans, there is none righteous, no not one.

So it is natural to consider what God has done for us and to be thankful. What God has done for each of us, and all of mankind is truly awesome. In the Gospel of John as it tells us that “..the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…” (from John 1:14).

This is thankfulness. But it is not worship. The two become so easily intertwined in our thoughts, church teachings and Christian music. But there is a distinct difference between them.

Thanks is works based – we thank God for what He has done. Yes, we should and must be thankful and thank God for what He has done, not only for each of us, but for all mankind.

Worship is different in that God, as the creator, maintainer, and master of all of the universe – from the most distant star or galaxy, the milky way, the infinite number of stars and galaxies that even the most powerful telescope will never be able to see, to the majestic mountains, the massive seas, the beauty and wonder of nature, the air we breathe, the gentle coo of a newborn baby, to the holding together of the very atoms that make up our bodies – God is to be honored far above all for eternity for who He is.

At a personal level, I have noticed that certain hymns of the church seem to be timeless and to move me (sometimes to tears) over and over, for what seems an inexplicable reason. The classic hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” is a great example of such a hymn. What is it about that hymn that so transcends time or contemporary style?

The answer, I believe lies in the book of Revelation (7:9-12)

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

Wow! THAT is WORSHIP! Worship is proclaiming to all who will hear the greatness of God, His marvelous name, and so many other things about Him.

But worship goes even further (and is the center piece of the book I am working on). Look back up in the quote from Revelation above. The prophesy is that people from “…every nation, tribe, people and language…” will worship God around the throne in heaven.

When this is coupled with the Great Commission, it becomes clear that God asks, and will be worshiped by every nation (people group). But the Great Commission is how God has put in His plan for every nation to worship Him. So God, indeed, is not being yet worshiped by every nation. That will only happen as we proclaim Him to them and provide the opportunity for them to know the God whose name they have not yet heard (and will only hear once we have proclaimed it to them).

So an important part of worship is the fullness of every nation worshiping God – the unfinished task of proclaiming His Name to all nations.

As you worship God, I would in the most loving way, request that you consider as a part of your worship and adoration for the maker of the universe, ask God what you can do to help proclaim His Name to those still remaining nations who have never heard.

For the latest information about those nations, go to http://www.joshuaproject.net/ , a great resource for understanding where His Name is not yet known. Or pick up a copy of the book, “Operation Word” (information at http://www.operationworld.org/ ).