This small article is my humble attempt at answering the questions that one of the my good friends recently asked me. Hopefully it can benefit us all. If I still didn’t answer something here, please feel free to leave a comment.
The basic issue in worship is the concept of value. In its most basic sense, worship is the expression of the deep value that one has for someone or something.
Much of the so called religious worship of our time is fake. It is an outward expression of some ritual or religious practice, but often times it is not the deep and honest reflection of the values of a person.
In reality though, everyone worships something. Everyone builds their life on some thing that they deeply cherish and derive their joy from, something that they build their whole life around. By our very nature we are worshiping creatures. It is something without which we cannot live.
The Problem of Worship
The problem with this is that by seeking to establish our own mode of worship we run away from the ONLY one who is truly worthy of worship: God. Paul hits the problem right on target in the following paragraph:
“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:18-23)
What he says here is that instead of worshiping the one true God, people seek to establish their own mode of worship. By doing this, they are suppressing the fact that they still know to be true: God is still there, and they will one day face him. This indeed is the essence of sin: to make God out as one who is less valuable than anything else we like in life; it is taking something good and making it into something that is ultimate.
For every single person life is all about worship. But it is the wrong kind of worship that is also a rebellion against God, which rightfully earns us eternal punishment.
The Solution of Worship
In reality, “all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16). All the good things in life are good because they are a reflection of the goodness of God. “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord” (Psalm 19:1). Everything is meant to direct us to him see in him the amazing value on which we build our lives.
This also, is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although he did not have to, God himself decided to lovingly pay for the price of our horrible rebellion. He suffered and paid the price for our sin. In Christ, God provides humanity a way out of their life of false worship. In Christ God gives a person the opportunity to come to a full understanding of the surpassing value of Him above all things in life, and to turn to him, be forgiven and accepted, and live a life that values and cherishes him above all else.
What a grace this is on his part!
The Expression of True Worship
At this point, we may ask the question, “How is it that I can most effectively express my worship to him?”. Paul provides the answer:
“1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
According to this passage, true worship goes far beyond a mere outward action. True worship is the surrender of ones heart and mind into the influence of the word of God.
If we truly value God above all else in life (indeed he is the only one that truly is worthy of this sort of value), than we are to seek to make him more valuable than the most valuable thing that we have.
What is that? Paul provides the answer – your whole body. What does he mean by this? In verse 2 we can see that what he is talking about is the whole you, your whole mind, your entirety as a person – true worship is the surrender of one’s entire value system under the influence of God’s word.
This is the only form of worship that truly makes sense. Think about it: if you really value God as being infinitely more important than anything else, you will desire for him to influence every single aspect of your life and heart. You will value no other influence except his. This is precisely what Paul says, – “Don’t be conformed to the world around you (aka – its value system, its principles, etc), but be transformed in the renewal of your mind to understand the will of God..”
He says that true worship is a life in which one seeks understand what God’s value system is, and then to adopt it into their own life. This is the greatest way to show the supremacy of God in one’s life. With your enter lifestyle to declare to the surrounding world, “I do indeed have selfish desires and goals, BUT all that is garbage to me compared to the amazing value of knowing God and HIS value system!” (Cf. Philippians 3:7-9).
And as God’s value system begins to determine a person’s whole life – life blooms. God is the one who invented life and the one who designed HOW life is to be lived! God is the one who invented beauty, joy, meaning and purpose.
Thus, true biblical worship is the surrender of ones entire value system under the influence of the word of God, driven by a deep conviction that He is infinitely more valuable than anything else in life, and in him alone is found the fulfillment to every need of the human heart.
Far away from being an obligation, true worship is actually the greatest freedom that there is.