It is time for us to respond to the glimpses we saw last week of God’s glory:
Worship the Lord.
All praise to his name.
Worship is often used as a generic term for the hour or so we spend together on Sunday morning. The format and content of the service may be familiar and predictable, and we may have half a mind set on our Sunday lunch arrangements… However, I’m sure we would all agree that worship should not be boring or routine, nor should it be limited to one hour per week!
I have already reflected on praise and thanksgiving earlier in this series, so how does worship differ? I would suggest that worship takes us one step further, by engaging our hearts and emotions, but also inspiring us to take sacrificial action. It is definitely not just a relatively passive activity of attending a gathering of believers. The Old Testament provides us with strong directions, particularly in the Psalms, on how we should worship – giving back to God something which recognises His true worth:
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness.1 Chr 16.29
Worship is a response to God’s glory that affects our heart attitudes, and is often associated with taking up a particular body position:
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our MakerPs 95.6
Bowing down and kneeling demonstrate in our posture that we are responding to God in awe, humility and wonder. However, David demonstrated how we can worship in an entirely different way – with enthusiasm and absolute abandon:
As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, ….. I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”2 Sam. 6. 16, 21, 22
On coming to the New Testament, we immediately read in Matthew’s gospel of the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem and how they came bearing costly treasures in worship of the infant Jesus. The nature of these gifts had undoubtedly been inspired by prophetic understanding of his mission. During his ministry, Jesus visited the home of Lazarus, and we come across another outward expression of worship:
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.John 12.3
We don’t know how well off the family were, but it is likely that this act was made without counting the extremely high cost. Finally, Paul, when writing to the church in Rome, provided a very clear expression of what worship should be about:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Rom. 12.1
Worship is ultimately handing ourselves completely over to God’s service. A living sacrifice is a contradiction in terms – only Jesus was able to lay down his own life and remain alive – but we too are called to give up our own selfish ambitions and put God back into his rightful place in charge of our lives.
From what we have read, any thoughts of worship just being a reflection of our personal taste in liturgy, hymns and songs, should be set aside. What really matters is the extent to which our worship draws us into sacrificial giving of ourselves and our possessions in response to God’s love and his glorious redemption of us.