Worship is a loosely used term in the church world today. We have calls to worship, worship teams, and worship services; but let’s face it, worship is a substitute word we use to make us sound spiritual or churchy. We say worship team when we speak of a group of people who play music. Back in the day they were called song leaders. We say worship service when we speak of having a meeting at an appointed time at a church. It used to be called church. Now we have different worship styles and worship has become a genera. The term worship is used so much that we have lost the true meaning and the true purpose of worship.
So what is worship? Webster’s says that it is the “act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God: or excessive admiration for someone.” It’s not a meeting, a band or group of singers, or even specific music or songs. It is respect. It is something given to God and it should be given to him alone. God told Moses in Exodus chapter 20 that they should have no other gods before him (v. 3). The Bible tells us to fear God and keep his commandments; therefore by the very definition of worship the only way to truly worship is to fear God (have reverent respect for him), so much that nothing comes before him. When we make worship about a mere event that takes place or a style of music it degrades what true worship is.
Jesus tells us in John chapter 4 that true worshipers shall worship him in spirit and in truth (v. 24). So what did Jesus mean by this? First we must look at this statement in the context of the entire chapter. Jesus has just approached a Samaritan woman who was at a well. He was speaking to her and according to the custom of the day he should not have even looked at her or recognized that she was there. To top it off, she was at the well at that time of day because even the other Samaritan women did not respect her. So here Jesus is acknowledging her by asking for a drink of water. He only does this to strike up a conversation with the lady so he can get to the heart of the matter, her soul. He tells her things about herself that are not good. He reveals how many men she has been married to and the fact that she is now living with a man and they are not married. She then makes a statement to redirect the conversation. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you (Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (v. 20.) The lady poses a question within a statement.
We have the same question in the church world today. Where do you worship? What kind of worship service do you have; traditional or contemporary? What style is your worship service? All of these questions become irrelevant by the next few statements that Christ makes. He says the hour is coming when you will not worship in this mountain or in Jerusalem. Then he tells her she doesn’t even know what she is worshiping (v. 21-22). I believe this is the question that should be posed to the church world today. Do we know who we are worshiping? Before we can ever understand how to worship we must first understand who to worship. God, the Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the great I Am, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. That is who we worship! Jesus calls him the Father and so should we. He is a jealous God and he wants and deserves all of our praise, all of our honor, and all of our admiration.
The only way to truly worship the one true God is in spirit and in truth. Essentially, Jesus is saying to the women at the well, and to us for that matter, that something needs to take place in her life for her to worship. That something is a new birth. We are all dead in our trespasses and sins but Christ died for us that so that we could also die out to our flesh and be born of the spirit. Ephesians 2 says that he has quickened, or made alive, us who were did in our trespasses and sins (v. 1). We were dead, but now our spirit is alive and since our spirit is alive we now have the ability to worship God. Not in some place or by some style, but through our lives. Worship is a way of life that honors God and shows him adoration and love seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year.
I understand that we all have our preferences and things we like and dislike, but worship is not about US, it is only about God. Worship is not something conjured up or manufactured. It’s not a style, a place, or a song and dance routine. It’s not something we do when we feel like it or someplace we go when it’s convenient. It is honest love and respect for our Creator. Worship is praise and adoration in the church house and outside of it. Let us be sincere in our hearts and live lives that reflect the God that lives within us and the transformed life that we have experienced. Let us carry the glory of the Lord like the Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant. Let us not forget that it’s not about the method of praise and worship, but it is all about the One we praise and worship.