Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because he is worthy, delightfully so.
We say “all moral, sentient beings” because humans are not the only worshippers. Scripture gives us a powerfully moving picture of angels who orchestrate praise in heaven. Also, by speaking of worship as the proper response “of moral, sentient beings,” this definition excludes from worship rocks and hawks, minnows and sparrows, cabbages and toads, a mote of dust dancing on a sunbeam.
So what we have occurring in worship is conscious obedience. We have the necessary component of “worthiness” thus from old English “worth – ship.” In worship we recognize that God alone is worthy (Psalm 100; Revelation 4:8-11). We should not begin by asking whether or not we enjoy “worship,” but by asking, “What is it that God expects of us?” That will frame our proper response. So worship demands a self-examination.
Next, we worship our Creator-God “precisely because he is worthy, delightfully so.” Excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Some- times we wonder if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother in Christ put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.
So let’s forget about ourselves and focus on God. We need to expand our vision of God – his at- tributes, his works, his character, his words. Some think that corporate worship is good because it is lively where it had been dull. But, it may also be shallow where it is lively, leaving people dissatisfied and restless. Sheep lie down when they are well fed (Psalm 23:2), they are more likely to be restless when they are hungry. “Feed my sheep,” Jesus commanded Peter (John 21) and many sheep are unfed and thus think they’re fed up with a certain worship style.
If we wish to deepen the worship of the people of God, above all we must deepen our grasp on God’s ineffable majesty in his person and in all his works.
So let’s pray, then, and work for a massive display of the glory and character and attributes of God. We do not expect the garage mechanic to expound on the wonders of his tools; we expect him to fix the car. He must know how to use his tools, but he must not lose sight of the goal. So we dare not focus on the mechanics of corporate worship and lose sight of the goal. Of course, the proper components of our worship are essential but they are only a right means to a glorious end. We focus on God himself, and thus we become more godly and learn to worship – and collaterally we learn to edify one another, forbear with one another, challenge one another.
What we must strive for is growing knowledge of God and delight in him – not delight in worship per se, but delight in God.
Paul Merideth lives in Jeffersontown, Ky and preaches for the Watterson Trail Church of Christ