I’ve always been fascinated by people. I love to watch them when they don’t know they’re being watched (no, I’m not a stalker). Whenever we’d take road trips as kids, one of our favorite activities was to count the number of people in other cars that were picking their noses. (This was before those nifty portable DVD players, we had to have some way of entertaining ourselves.) As I got older, the airport became one of my favorite places to watch people. (Before 9/11 when we could wait at the gate.) I loved watching couples and families reunite. I always had to repress the urge to go up and ask them why their reunion was so meaningful, where have you all been and how long were you apart.
Over recent years, my favorite time to watch people is during church worship gatherings. I’ve been a part of many different types of churches and faith organizations, and each one has had its own way of worshiping God through music and song. I love Mosaic, our church now, because we have such a neat blend when it comes to worshiping God. When I look around the room on Sundays, I see people lifting their hands, I see people closing their eyes, I see people who are trying to keep up with an unfamiliar song, I see people who might look bored to someone who didn’t know better. Each of these worshipers is experiencing God in his or her own unique way. And some of them may not best express their relationship with God through music or song at all.
In our community group (which meets at our house on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays), we’ve begun taking a look at the ways God has wired each of us to express our relationship with Him. I’m uber excited about this, because worshiping God is so important. Growing up, I always assumed that “worship” meant “a Sunday morning or evening service in which we sing songs and hear a sermon”. But it’s SO much more than this.
I love singing. It has been a passion of mine as far back as I can remember. God used the Little Mermaid to inspire me to start singing. (Go ahead and laugh.) It’s a release for me. It’s one of the ways I love to worship God.
Not everyone loves singing. Some people hate it because it makes them uncomfortable, or they think that they can’t carry a tune (and the “make a joyful noise” verse doesn’t always encourage them). I remember friends who constantly were frustrated because they were beating themselves up for not enjoying singing praise and worship songs. They thought they were disappointing God. I wish I could have told them back then what I know now– it’s probably because God has given you a different way to worship Him! AND primarily because our definition of worship is far too limited.
WHAT IS WORSHIP? I would define worship as anything we do that makes us (and others) see God for Who He is. We are worshiping God when we bring Him honor.
So. What forms does worship come in? Here are a few of my ideas (and of course there are a ton more).
* looking at the stars
* sitting beside the ocean
* feeding the hungry
* taking soup to someone who’s sick
* visiting a nursing home
* cooking a meal for neighbors
* taking a vow of silence
* studying church history
* discussing a deep theological truth
* taking communion
* tending a garden
* participating in a liturgy
* writing in a journal
* hugging people
* sitting quietly/meditation
* writing out what you believe
* letting someone go ahead of you in line
* being ethical at work and school
* tipping well when you go out to eat
Basically ANY and EVERY action we take, word we say, thought we think can be worshipful.
Romans 12:1-2 describes in a nutshell what I see as worship. I’ll write it out in a couple of different translations.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God– this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice– the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (NLT)
We are making much of God when we live our lives sold out to loving Him and others. We are seeing God for Who He is when we allow Him to transform our ways of thinking, and when we allow Him to call the shots in our lives. (Transformation of the mind will probably be explored in a later post.)
WHY SHOULD WE WORSHIP GOD? Forgive me if this seems too simplistic, but because He is worthy. “When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in holy array” (Psalm 29:2, NASB).
“Give honor to the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness” (Psalm 29:2, NLT).
There are many books written on this subject. Perhaps I’ll do a post at a later time on this.
HOW SHOULD I WORSHIP GOD? This is where the fun part comes in for me lately. I had our community group take an awesome quiz/inventory thing that comes from the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. I strongly recommend getting this book. It explores nine different “worship styles” (ways that people express their worship/relationship with God). I love how diverse our small group is, although I find it interesting that we are heavy on the contemplative and intellectual sides. We also have a few naturalists, a couple caregivers, some activists, and some ascetics. And really, everyone has at least 2 or 3 worship styles that they’re wired with. I hope that they’ve found this as interesting and freeing as I have! (My dominant worship styles are contemplative and intellectual, followed closely by enthusiasm.)
I think the main point is not necessarily just to do things that we enjoy, but instead to enjoy God through doing them.
WHERE SHOULD WE WORSHIP GOD? I think that corporate, or group, worship is important. What form it takes is up to the group (as we’ve seen above). At Mosaic, we have folks who love to go hiking together. We have groups who make Christmas cards for those in nursing homes. We love putting together care kits for the homeless. We get together on Sundays and sing praises. We get together at coffee shops and pray. We get together in homes and study God’s Word.
Worshiping God individually is equally important. We are each responsible for our own actions, thoughts, and words. We can utilize moments throughout our day to worship God. We are honoring Him when we don’t flip off the person who cut us off in traffic. We are honoring God when we do our best at work or school, and not just when the boss/teacher is looking. We are honoring God when we clean up after ourselves at a restaurant. We are honoring God when we speak lovingly to our families. We are honoring God when we engage in activities that flow with our worship styles. We honor God when seeking His face in prayer, when reading His Word, and through loving others in practical ways.
Worship is multi-faceted. I hope that you seek ways to honor God and let Him know how much you love Him. He rejoices over you when you enjoy Him.