Worship is placing value on something. Or it at least starts there. When we set one thing above all others, we are deeming it valuable. [And we must properly place value in order for our lives to function as they were intended.] God is the only being worthy of worship, the most valuable entity in all the world.
But worshiping God is more than just the proper placement of value. Worship is a response to encountering God. When we come in contact with our creator, we are humbled; our response is worship. I witness God and place him above all else — not that in worship we actually place God above all else, for he is already there. Worship is more an acknowledgement of his already-held (and rightfully so) position. It is accepting and then proclaiming that he is valuable beyond all else.
This song comes to mind:
Lord, you are more precious than silver.
Lord, you are more costly than gold.
Lord, you are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares with you.
True worship is wholly inseparable from true faith. Worship is an unavoidable consequence of faith. At the same time, though, worship fuels, feeds, and reinforces faith. You cannot have one without the other.
True worship manifests itself in obedience to God and his desires. If he is valuable above all else, then his commands are also valuable — even above our own selfish desires. Our God is the creator of life, and longs for us to truly live. We worship when we live as he intends. Worship is an obedient and transformed life.
God is not pleased with the offering of sacrifices, tithes, songs, Bible readings, and sermons… unless they flow forth from obedient lives, from Christians who act with justice and mercy in their communities. The problem isn’t that God refuses to accept worship from disobedient and nominal Christians — it’s that what they offer is not in fact worship. Worship produces obedience.
Lastly, worship is empowered by the Holy Spirit, both through his personal indwelling in the individual, and through other Christians who encourage and nurture a spirit of worship in one another. Therefore “corporate worship” is a useful and meaningful concept.
Which is where I’ll pick up in my next post: sunday gatherings as “worship.”