- Evangelism- telling people about the love of Jesus.
- Fellowship- sharing life together. It is laughing together, crying together, praying together, and yes it is sitting around a table together.
- Ministry- showing the love of Christ in real and tangible ways.
For our time let’s begin to look at the purpose of worship. Specifically, let’s look at the question, what is worship?
We find in Matthew 22:37 Jesus is being quizzed about what is the greatest commandment in all of the Old Testament including the 10 Commandments, Jesus replies, “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (ESV).’”
This passage is part of what is referred to as the Great Commandment. You may recall that Jesus followsup this verse with a second command: love your neighbor as yourself (v. 39).
Worship is the natural result if we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. This love goes beyond just mere affection. This love of God is unselfish, it is loyal, it has self-giving intention, devotion, and commitment toward God. This is love. This is the love that we should have for God. To love the Lord will always result in worship. Not only this but you and I were created to worship.
John Frame in his book Worship in Spirit and Truth defines worship as “the work of acknowledging the greatness of our covenant Lord…Worship is saturated with reminders of God’s covenant lordship. We worship to honor his mighty acts, to hear his authoritative word, and to fellowship with him personally as the one who has made us his people.” I love the phrase, “acknowledging the greatness of our covenant Lord.” Let me ask you, how much do you acknowledge the greatness of the Lord in your worship?
Bob Kauflin defines worship as, “the response of God’s redeemed people to His self-revelation that exalts God’s glory in Christ in our minds, affections and wills, in the power of Holy Spirit.” Our minds, affections, and wills, this is our whole self. Worship isn’t merely a thing of our intellect, nor is it simply an emotional experience. We worship with our whole selves. Let me ask you, how much do you worship Him with your whole self?
I would put forward a working definition that worship is the act of giving glory and honor to the Lord through your words, actions, and song. Worship is the proclamation through word, prayer, and song of our love for Jesus. Worship is connecting to the Lord to express your love and thanksgiving to Him.
While the meaning of worship isn’t to be something confusing or difficult, we have some common areas where we divert off course.
A big area is the area of ‘reverence’ and the different understandings of reverence. You see my friend, reverence to the Lord is a position of your heart in worship, it is an emotion combining honor, awe, and respect to the Lord.
More particularly, we run off the rails in one of two ways when it comes to our understanding of reverence. First, many see reverence as being with your back straight in your chair/pew, straight-faced, and in many ways emotionless. This definition leads churches and people to more formalized worship or what is sometimes referred to as high church. The major issue with is understanding of reverence is that it is emotionless. Worship by its nature is an emotional thing. Worship is to be a thing of joy and celebration. It is impossible to have an emotionless joyful celebration. Think of this definition of reverence as high in structure but low in emotion. Another way to think of this definition of reverence is high in intellect but low in heart.
The second way we run off the rails when it comes to an understanding of reverence is the opposite end of the spectrum where it is high in emotional exuberance but low (if existent) in structure. Further, this understanding of reverence would be high in heart but low in intellect. In this understanding of reverence, people leave the time of worship that is high in excitement with a ‘worship high’ that is short-lived. The major issue with this understanding of reverence is it is all heart, to the point it is emotionally driven, even ecstatic ecstasy. There is no place for the intellect in this understanding of reverence and worship.
As we mentioned earlier, worship must be with your whole self. Worship must include space for both the mind and the heart. All mind leads to dead worship and going through the motions. All heart leads to worship that is shallow, lacking direction and purpose.
To worship with your whole self will look different from one individual to the next, because of different personalities and histories. For some to worship engaging their whole self will be what I refer to as ‘bapticostal’ where there is both intellect and emotion, while others will worship with their whole self in a more reserved manner. One is not right and the other wrong. The point is to worship and celebrate King Jesus.
Does your worship inform your thinking and the way you live?
Do you get as excited about worshipping King Jesus as you do for your favorite team, TV show, or music band?
Do you worship King Jesus with your whole self?