WORSHIP

we are all on a journey towards a greater understanding in the things of God.

There has been controversy and disagreement around the concept of worship for the Church for many more decades than I have been alive—“centuries” would be a better word.

In our time, worship is often accompanied by the word “praise”, as in “praise and worship.”

The significance of this should not be overlooked. The connected phrase refers to the musical portion of the church’s gathering together.

In other words, we now have the concept that “worship” is only about singing spiritual songs.

We see this when the leader of a gathering says, “Let’s worship the Lord” and everyone stands to begin singing.

There is no doubt and no question but that singing is an integral part of worship; but it is not the whole of worship.

In this case, the leader would serve better by saying, “Let us worship the Lord in song.”

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

The word “worship” comes from the Old English whose spelling is difficult for us to read; but it developed into “worthship”—ascribing worth to someone.

“Worship” is the contracted form of ‘worthship.’

The English word translates the Greek word ‘proskenuo’ meaning to prostrate before with a kiss.

The bowing of oneself before another in the Far East and the touching of the head to the ground are the forms of ascribing honor—worthship—to another.

We see this example given twice in the Revelation—19:10 and 22:8.

Bowing or kneeling puts one in a position of vulnerability before the other.

MODERN WORSHIP

Our practices of worship are in and of themselves a learned behavior.

Visit a number of different churches and you will experience differences in worship styles.

Some will have you standing for almost an hour singing songs. Others will sing three songs and then do something else, but then return to one or two more songs. Still others will have individual songs scattered throughout their time together.

If you do the same thing within a particular denomination, you will not find any differences in style from one congregation to another.

In some churches you will find the sermon somewhere before the middle of the service, and others will not have it until everything else is done. Some churches will often skip the sermon for various reasons.

Why this disparity of worship styles?

Is one way or method better than another?

Are some right while others are wrong?

This was the controversy in Jesus’ time—is one way better than another.

The woman at the well in Samaria said,

“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain,
but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
Jn 4:20

Their squabble was about place, but Jesus put it all into perspective with His answer.

Jesus said to her,
“Woman, believe me,
the hour is coming when neither on this mountain
nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
God is spirit,
and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jn. 4:21, 23-24

He set the record straight that worship was not about correct place or style. He said that true worship is about spirit and truth.

It is sad that many of our charismatic people have made worship about their experience with the Holy Spirit, for that is not what Jesus meant by ‘spirit.’

The western mind almost always takes the word “and” to be a connective word for two separate things, whereas the Hebrew thought is more like an emphasis.

In other words, “spirit, even truth.”

Truth is more about reality than it is about understanding or doctrine.

When you worship, it is to be in the reality of your entire being (spirit).

Worship, then, is your mind, spirit, heart, mouth and body involved in ascribing praise and honor to God.

  • Singing is included.
  • Dancing is included.
  • Waving and clapping hands is included.
  • Listening is included.
  • Speaking is included.
  • Falling to one’s knees is included.

Any and all of these things are included under the term “worship.”

No one has a corner on exactly the right style or form of worship—myself included.

Therefore, for those who are mature, let us not criticize others and their expression of worship.

Let us, rather, accept that

we are all on a journey towards a greater understanding in the things of God.

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