Steve Jobs. If someone were to ask you the first thing that popped into your mind when his name was mentioned, most likely you would say Apple computers or some other Apple product. Why? Because Steve Jobs was not only the face of Apple, but the founder and leading innovator. He devoted his entire life to the origination and perfection of the Apple line of products. Some would say he worshipped the iWorld! But Steve is not alone. Everyone devotes their lives to something—money, success, pleasure, relationships, knowledge, etc. But why do people do this? Why do they worship these things? People worship because they were created and designed to do so. However, there is only one person deserving of our worship, and that person is God. And for those of us who are a part of the church, who believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior (Matt. 16:18), it is crucial that we not only worship the right person but that we worship Him in the right way. Today we will look at how the church worships and see that it must worship God alone, worship in spirit and truth, and worship constantly. But before we get to that, what does it mean to worship?
Worship comes from the Greek word that literally means “worth”ship. To worship is to give worth to someone or something. It is to ascribe worth or value to an object or person. Throughout the Old Testament, people demonstrated true worship through their body language. The body language of worship was bowing. Moses exemplifies this outward show of worship when he bows toward the earth after God made new stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them (Exodus 34:8). Interestingly enough, the first of those commandments was to worship God alone (Exodus 20:8).
This first commandment is also the first principle of how the church worships. The church must worship God alone. When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, informing them how He wished for them to live as a nation that represented Him to the world, He started by telling them to “have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3-6). The idea was that they were not to make their own gods (vs. 4). This was simply because God is the only True God and also a Jealous God (vs. 5). However, this is not a jealousy like we as humans exhibit because God is the only one worthy of our devotion and worship; therefore, His jealousy is actually in our best interest (vs. 6). Jesus exemplifies this principle when He is tempted by Satan after His forty day fast (Luke 4). In response to Satan’s offer of the whole world if Jesus would merely bow to Satan (thus giving him worship), Jesus answered, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him ONLY shall you serve” (Luke 4:8). Jesus recognized something we all must recognize as well—God is the only one worthy of our worship because He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Owner of all of creation.
The second principle of worship for the church is that God must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. In John 4 Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman who is known for her “loose living”. Toward the end of the interaction, the subject of worship comes up and, while the woman is focused on location of worship, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter about how worship should be practiced. He gives two guidelines for worship—it must be done in spirit and in truth (vs. 23-24). When He talks about worship in spirit, Jesus is indicating that worship must flow from our hearts. Worship is not a ceremonial external act to gain attention, but a celebratory internal attitude to ascribe worth to God. It is important to realize that God knows and sees the difference between religious acts and worshipful hearts (1 Sam. 16:7; Matt. 15:8-9). Christ speaks of worship being not only in spirit, but also in truth. When mentioning “truth”, Jesus is referring to that which is correct. Worship that is true is that which is in accordance with a standard, and that standard is God’s character. In other words, worship must be consistent with the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture, not simply with our emotions and passions (Rom. 1:24-25). Worshipping in truth also indicates that there is a right and wrong way to worship (Deut. 12:4, 31). The best and greatest way to worship according to truth is to do so in accordance with God’s character (Ps. 146:5-9). We, as the church, must worship God alone in spirit in truth.
The final principle of worship for the church of Jesus Christ is that worship must be constant. Romans 12:1 supports this principle by stating that we are to offer our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship”. So according to Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, our bodies are to be used as living sacrifices in worshipping God. That means that no matter what we do—eating, drinking, working, playing, etc.—we can and should do it to worship God (1 Cor. 10:31). This type of constant worship is only achievable because the God of the universe is always with us as believers. We are called God’s temple, His dwelling place (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Therefore, whatever we do, wherever we do it, our acts are to be a form of worship to the God of all creation, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
So how is your worship? Are you worshipping God alone? If not what else are you worshipping? Are you worshipping Him in spirit (passion/emotions) and in truth (according to His character)? Or are you just bumbling around with endless emotion or passionless truth? Finally, are you worshipping God constantly? Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, are you constantly worshipping our God in heaven?
Stay tuned for part 6 of this series “The Church”. Up next: The Ordinances. If you missed part 1: The Church:What is it?, part 2: The Church:Universal vs. Local, part 3: The Church: Who is in the Church, or part 4: The Church: How it Interacts? read it here!