Everyday, you wake up, get out of bed, and continue on with your story. From the decisions you make, to the places you go, to the way you spend your time, you are telling a story. What story you are telling depends on the object of your worship.
If someone followed you around for an entire month, documenting the steps you take, the places you go, the things you do, and the way you speak, what story would be told?
In the late 1990s and early 2000s the buzz word within the modern evangelical church was “worship.” Churches started hiring “worship” pastors. Music within a service received the title of “worship.” An entire genre of music was birthed out of this movement. The phrase, “let’s stand and worship” became a favorite one of the “worship” pastor before leading the congregation in singing. But is singing all there is to worship? Is it just music?
I’m going to guess you agree that worship is more than music and singing. Yes, but why then does our language reflect that? I believe language is important to culture. What we say, most often reflects what we believe. So if we believe that worship is more than music and singing, why have we labeled it as such?
Let’s look at what the Bible says about worship. I’ll take one example of “worship” that Jesus uses. In Matthew 4:10, Jesus, being tempted, tells Satan, “You must worship the LORD your God and serve him only.” What does Jesus mean there? How can Satan worship the LORD and serve him?
If we look at the greek word to find the meaning and context behind Jesus’ words we learn that Jesus uses the greek word proskuneó in conversation with Satan. The word means “to do reverence to.” Jesus rebukes Satan and tells him to do reverence to God only. Satan chose wrongly. He chose not to worship the LORD and serve him only. He desired to worship himself. But are you any different, really?
What do you revere? Where do you place your value and worth. We all revere something or someone. We all worship something. Some of us worship God. Others worship ourself, or money, or success, or sports, or music. Wherever you place your highest value, there you will find your worship.
When we fail to place Jesus as our highest value and revere Him, we worship someone other than God. You see, worship isn’t just an act or a place you go to fellowship with other believers. It isn’t a time in the church service where you sing songs. Those things are certainly part of worship, but worship is a lifestyle. It’s the where you focus your desires in the month-long documentary of your life.
God demands that you worship him. However, you and I are human and fail in living up to God’s perfect demand. Our efforts and good merit will never measure up to God’s demand. If it could, there would be no need for Jesus. We could simply let our good efforts outweigh our bad.
But that God is not one worthy of your worship. That god says if we try hard enough, God will accept us, and that is cheapened law. If God left it up to us, then he is just like you and me. He measures how we perform and treat him, and then rewards us accordingly. And if He rewards us based upon how we respond to his perfect demands, that’s bad news, for all of us.
But God didn’t leave us with bad news. He gave us hope. Jesus is the one who did fulfill God’s perfect demands. He didn’t just worship God with his actions, he worshipped God in his motives and desires too. He fulfilled the perfect demands of God perfectly.
Then he worshipped God all the way to the cross, enduring the penalty for your and my sin on the cross. Even in the most excruciating and difficult time in his life, he worshipped God in your place and mine.
Jesus is the perfect and true worshipper, not you or me; we never could be and we never will be. Even on our best day, our worship is filthy rags before a perfect and holy God. But this isn’t reason for mourning, self moping, or giving up. This news is reason to celebrate! Jesus is the victor. He accomplished on our behalf, what we never could!
So what or who are you worshipping today? Right now?
Is it Jesus? Or are you trying to keep up with everyone else, one upping your neighbor? Keeping tabs on how many times you prayed or read your Bible today? That’s not Jesus worship, that’s self-worship, trying to be good enough to please God. The focus is still on you, and your efforts.
God’s not impressed; but you know what, God doesn’t condemn you. He doesn’t chastise you and withhold his mercy and love from you for trying to earn his grace. He graciously looks on Jesus and sees Jesus’ perfect worship in your place. Then he picks you up, adopts you as his own, and loves on you, not because you deserve it or earned it, but all because of Jesus.
That is a story worth reading.
That is worship.