Isn’t funny how we talk about worship. Usually it’s as an adjective, as in, “I went to a worship service.” Or “The worship leader did nice job today.” Sometimes, worship becomes a noun – “The worship was great.” It just seems to me that we miss the very essence of worship when we use those terms. Here’s a different thought: Worship is a verb. It is an action word, something we engage in.
At its very essence, worship is the act of bowing down. Both the Old and New Testament make use of words that reflect that idea; humans humbling themselves before a superior being. And built into that concept is an even greater truth – that there is a God and humans are in relationship with Him. That truth is fundamental to human existence. We have been looking for a way to understand and relate to this Divine Being since the creation. What started out as a walk in the garden with Him, turned to fear and appeasement. We offered animals and other sacrifices instead of talking to Him as friend. The revolutionary idea that Jesus expressed in the gospel of John is that God is still seeking worshippers, not cringing subjects.
Here is what Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
OK, so if worship is a verb, what does that mean? First, I don’t think worship means going to a certain building, at a certain time, on a certain day. Sure worship may happen there – individually and collectively – but just being there is not worship. I think worship is simply our spirit responding to His Truth.
God has initiated a conversation with people not based on fear but on truth; a conversation about our position and place in the universe; an understanding of who He is and who we are. He is still greater and superior to humans and we still need to bow down, but we do it out of respect, awe and admiration. We come to Him not with animals or grain or ritual, but with our hearts poured out to Him. We come giving Him our human essence, our spirit, seeking its rightful and restful place with Him.
There is only one basis for spiritual and true worship of God – that is the life-restoring death and resurrection of Jesus. His one life won for us true life. We no longer need to fear God. We no longer need to appease God. We no longer need to satisfy a divinely justified anger at our offense. All these things were wrapped up in His death garment and destroyed by His resurrection power. We worship in awe, adoration and admiration in response to this great initiative – to His great Giving.
So we just say “WOW, Thank You!” in the most genuine, heart-felt way we know how. It may be formal ritual or informal gatherings; it may be singing or sitting quietly; it may be dancing or kneeling; it may be shouting or laughing or crying. It really doesn’t matter what form it takes, it just needs to be true. It needs to be the very center of our soul reaching, stretching, longing towards the Center of our Soul.