Worship re:defined

This is a guest post by Ben Woodward. He is a writer and worship leader. He focuses on giving Jesus all through our worship and abiding in His Word. You can follow Ben on Twitter and Facebook.

What is worship?

Is it a service we attend? Is it a song that we sing? Is it lifting our hands or closing our eyes? How do you define the act of worship?

The first time worship is used in scripture is when Abraham is going up to the mountain with his son to sacrifice. The Old Testament often equated worship with sacrifice. Obviously we don’t sacrifice animals in our modern worship expressions, but it does make you think, have we lost the true meaning of worship?

King David was a master musician and was able to worship using song and dance and musical instruments. That seems to be more like our modern expressions of worship, but is that the only way to worship?

Jesus actually gave us a description of worship in John 4:23, but He described it in a way that is hard to define. He said true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth.

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” John 4.23

What does that even mean?

What does it mean to worship in spirit? What does it mean to worship in truth?

Without getting to deeply in to the meaning of this verse, I think Jesus was trying to help the woman He was speaking to understand that worship has little to do with the external expression and everything to do with the internal response.

The Anglo-Saxon root for the word worship means to give worth to something (worth-ship). So, worship is more about responding to the worthiness of Jesus than actually performing a ceremony, singing a song, lifting our hands.

I actually think a good description of worship is found in Colossians chapter 3.

Colossians 3.23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

Whatever you do, that is worship if it a response to the worthiness of Jesus.

If it’s singing a song, then its worship because its unto the worthy King.

If it’s riding a bike, taking care of your kids, respecting your husband, loving your wife, working a 9-5 then it’s worship if it’s unto and in response to Jesus as the worthy King.

You can ride a bike and it not be worship as much as you can sing a “worship” song and it not be worship.

Worship has little to do with the outward manifestation, but everything to do with the heartfelt response.

In our western churches we have become addicted to the song. If we are not careful, we will create an idol around our worship services, our worship songs and our rock star worship leaders. When I lead worship, I like to tell people this,

“Don’t give me a room full of people who lift their hands to heaven on Sunday and then live completely opposite on Monday. Give me a few who live their lives in response to Jesus every moment of every day, and I will show you those who are the answer to Jesus declaration in John 4 about worship.”

True worship is a life lived in response to the worthy King.

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