In the interest of not dragging this out and getting on to the creative stuff, I’ve decided to just go ahead and lay out what I am thinking worship is. I’ve come down to 5 things that I think make up the essence of worship. I’m just gonna lay them out here and then double back and explain them a bit.
1) Fear of the Lord 2) Obedience 3) Availability 4) Purity 5) Excellence So what does that mean and why these 5? I am sure there are more, but these 5, at least to me, biblically represent worship–the core, or essence of worship. These things, when put together, add up to a wonderful whole that leaves very little out.
The first is Fear of the Lord. Originally, I was calling this Honor, but Fear of the Lord is better and covers honor. In Leviticus 10:3, Moses recounts to Aaron “”This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ”
God is saying that He must be honored. He is, after all, a king. How we approach Him may vary depending on circumstances, but when we come in corporate worship, He is clearly saying that there is a decorum for approaching me. We have to ask ourselves if we are honoring Him. I’m becoming convinced that there isn’t a place for saying things like “S’up S’up big man upstairs.” It isn’t regarding Him as holy, it isn’t glorifying Him.
I have to say that personally, there are times when God will be your friend, sometimes He will be in a father role, sometimes He is in a warrior role, and on and on. It is up to us to determine what role He is in at the time we approach Him and approach Him accordingly.
I love Lord of the Rings. I love the relationship that Aragorn has with everyone around Him. Sometimes He is an invisible protector (as an anonymous Ranger protecting the Shire when the Shire has no idea it is under protection), sometimes a visible protector (Strider), sometimes a warrior friend, sometimes a warrior king, sometimes a man who goes to the depths of the earth and commands the dead, and sometimes a king. In each of those roles, the people around him as such. When he is a king, the hobbits are respectful of that position. This is honor. This is the Fear of the Lord.
2) Obedience. We talked about this before. Obedience bows before the throne and says “I will do as you ask.” Bowing is the true semantic definition of worship, and obedience and submission is certainly a part of true bowing.
3) Availability. Again, we talked about this before, but we need to be availably and willing to do what God, the King asks.
4) Purity. This one is new to our discussion. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?” the psalmist asks. The answer is given next “He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Purity of heart, and purity of hands. What you think, what you want to do, and what you actually do.
The hill of the Lord here is what we are talking about. We ascend the hill, enter the gates, through the courts, and into His throne room. On the way up the hill, we better have clean hands and a pure heart. Notice, we shouldn’t even get to the temple with unpure hands and hearts. If we wait for corporate times of worship to get pure, it’s too late. Get clean before you come to God. More than that, live a life of purity and it’s never gonna be an issue.
5) Excellence. We need to offer all that we have, with all that we have. Excellence is not perfection. It is not perfection we are after, as that in unattainable. We are after excellence. We need to be excellent in everything that we do, whether work or play, raising kids, or being kids. And excellence is relative to your stage in life and God.
When my kids bring home a piece of art that they colored and it’s all outside the lines and a mix of colors and un-colors, my response isnt “Ugh, what is this?” but rather “Wow! What an amazing job, lets put this on the fridge”.
Now, if they are in college and come home with the same art, I will probably (besides dis-enroll them from the school) say something like “I know you can do better than this, this looks like a 5 year old drew it”.
What we bring to God should be worthy of going on His fridge (stocked with Pepsi and Ice Cream I am sure). When we sing and give our all to him, we are making art for His fridge. Is it something that He is going to want to display? Or does it go on the mini-fridge where no one can see it.
Lastly, we have Spirit and Truth. But that is more HOW we worship, not the essence of worship. So we’ll get there next.
Post your comments, I’d love to know what you think about our/my redefinition. Or re-redefinition. Or just Biblical definition.