06 Sep WORSHIP – IS IT ALL JUST A SHOW?
“True worship is based on a right understanding of God’s nature and it is a right valuing of God’s worth.” -John Piper
I remember watching as my husband would gaze out at other members of the congregation during Sunday morning worship. He skeptically doubted whether their hearts were genuinely matching up with their words…or if it was all for show. He would glance at his watch throughout the worship time, and even sometimes suggested we go late and skip it all together. He was there for the sermons…to intellectually take in a thing or two that he could apply to his life. The worship time was just something he had to get through.
Years later, Sunday worship is now one of his favorite parts of the week. We make every attempt to be there early so we don’t miss it. I haven’t seen him look at his watch during a worship service in over a year. Why the sudden change? Is it better music or aesthetics?
It’s simply due to a change of heart.
Over the past two years, God has slowly won his heart over and his worship is simply a response to that. Any act of worship starts at the heart – the unseen – and moves to a physical response – the seen.
In an interview on worship, Tim Keller stated, “I define worship as a private act, which has two parts; seeing what God is worth and giving Him what He’s worth…I ponder His worth and then do something about it – I give Him what He’s worth.”
Worship is a response to God’s worth. Thus, before we appropriately respond to God in worship, we must first recognize WHO He is to us.
Notice throughout Scripture, when worship, praise, or exaltation is taking place, the worshipper first states WHO God is…His name….His characteristics. Proclaiming who God is to them organically moves them into physical worship.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
1 Chronicles 16:29
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
I could give countless more examples of this throughout Scripture, especially in David’s Psalms. The order is obvious: RECOGNIZE who He is, then RESPOND.
This is the nature of true worship; it starts on the inside, then moves to the outside. Once we have recognized who He is in our heart, our physical response will surface in one way or another. Worship can be singing as part of a congregation, praising God through the private act of journaling or prayer, or acting lovingly towards our neighbor. If it is done in response to your love and adoration for WHO God is, then it is indeed true worship – no matter what it looks like!
John Piper says, “Let’s start with the inner essence of worship and then work out to the more public expressions of worship services or daily acts of love.” This distinction between the inner essence of worship and the external expression of it is something Jesus speaks to in Matthew 15:8-9: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
You can do as many kind deeds as you want and go to as many church services as you want; but you will never be worshiping if it is all external and nothing is happening in your heart toward God. You can’t be moved to a true and meaningful response without first recognizing God’s worth. Without the inner essence of worship, the public expression is in vain.
We are called to worship in spirit and in truth (1 Peter 2:5). By recognizing and proclaiming the TRUTH about God, we allow the SPIRIT to move our hearts to a true state of worship. Take some time this week to recognize who God is to you, specifically in the season you are currently in. What characteristics of God do you see Him displaying in your life right now? Write them down, circle them in your bible. If you need a good place to start, read Psalm 145, which states countless characteristics of God!
Thank God for WHO He is to you – and watch as your heart is organically moved to a state of true worship!