When someone talks about worship we so often get the image of the time in the beginning of service where everyone is singing songs about God, but what is worship truly? 1 Samuel 16:7 says. "...people look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart". So, can we say that just the act of singing about or to God is worship? We have this warning in Isaiah 29:13 which says, "the LORD says: " these people come to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship is based merely on human rules which they have been taught." What a serious indictment!
Worship is so much more than just a few songs! Worship is a condition of the heart, and not a demand from a cruel god, but the response of a grateful heart. Lets look at a few more scriptures so we can have a better understanding of what it means to live a life of worship unto the LORD.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing unto God - this is your true and proper worship.
God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth.
1 Chronicles 16:29
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.
Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, who's name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their god and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
Some of these verses may seem like a strong notion for our understanding, but true worship is a thing of great devotion. We all worship something whether we realize it or not. When we look at the Hebrew and Greek definitions of worship in these scriptures it means to reverence, bow down to, crouch, or pay homage to. In other words, we are worshiping whatever we submit ourselves to with our time, money, effort, etc. Whatever we prioritize first in our lifves is what we are truly worshiping. We may be singing songs about God at a church service, but if the lyrics are coming out of our mouths and we are thinking about the sports game or food later then where is our heart really at? What am I really worshiping?
Let's break down the scriptures listed above.
Worship is an at of sacrifice. What do we sacrifice? the verse says our bodies, but what that means is the desires of our flesh. The desires of our flesh will try to draw us away from intimacy with God, but we must continually keep ourselves in check to draw close to and stay near to God.
Worship is something of Spirit and truth. Spirit here means we must come void of carnality much like mentioned in Romans 12:1. Truth means its on God's terms. Jesus is the way the truth, and the life. He is the one truth, and when we are to draw close to Him we cannot bring our own theology. He is the Alpha and Omega and is not subject to an doctrine we wish to conjure up.
1 Chronicles 16:29
Worship acknowledges God's holiness above all else. He is high and lifted up above any and all things and is to be reverenced as such in genuine humility and honor. Just as He says "be holy as I am holy" He desires to have us close to Him, but as we behold Him it will compel us to be like Him.
Worship is a jealous act. Many people have become offend or confused by the idea of God being jealous because of a lack of understanding of what jealousy really means here. Jealousy in human thinking comes from an insecurity or envy of something., but God is most certainly not insecure nor does He need anything. Jealousy here is a thing of absolute passionate love in which He desires us beyond our comprehension. Everything He does and everything He asks of us is to bring us more into the fullness and realization of His love. He wants nothing between us and Him. He made sure of that on His end. He died on a cross to destroy sin and death for us. All that is left is that we surrender the sin in our lives over to Him. This is why He puts such a high demand on destroying other gods that may be in our lives. He desires for us to be just as jealous for Him as He is for us.
To tie it all this together; worship is an intimate encounter with God (that need not end) where we come to Him face to face, choosing to deny ourselves and all unholy worldly customs, so that we may behold the LORD's beauty and passion in a way that we give ourselves to reflect such an abundant love back to Him.