-type of music
-act of devotion
-feeling of adoration
-warm up for sermon
What do you think about when you hear the word "worship"? Honestly, I think I see true worship demonstrated better in college football games and in concerts than in church. The reason lies in the emotional investment. People simply aren't fans of Jesus like they are their favorite team or singer. I can't say that I blame them. We enter Christianity on faith in what God has already done. If you're new to Christianity, the anticipation of what God might do with you is exciting, but still unknown. It would be like googling Beyonce and seeing her lists of accolades from acting, singing, and writing music, but you've never heard her perform. You believe she's a great artist because of what she's already done, but you still haven't experienced her voice for yourself. Nine out of ten people would hear the voice of Beyonce and be entertained, thus validating the research. It becomes easy to worship and praise her because she's a proven talent.
Imagine yourself on your journey to figure out if Beyonce is legit. You drive to a big city venue, buy expensive tickets on the front row, and wait in anticipation of a rumored great show. Then when Beyonce appears, she asks you personally to start cheering for her with your hands raised in excitement. If you have no idea who this person is or if she's any good, your response is probably going to be "Um, no disrespect, but I drove a long way and paid a lot of money to be here. I need YOU to do something now."
People want that kind of experience with God. We unintentionally approach worship like do something and I will worship you. I truly don't believe people intentionally sit in church with their arms folded and hearts closed. In fact, I feel that most people struggle with a jealousy toward the carefree worshippers. I have certainly felt that jealousy. It was built on the assumption that God had revealed Himself to them in a way that I had not experienced. It made me feel less than; like that right was earned and I had not earned it yet.
God operates in the opposite way. No one knows the legitimacy of a pop star until they start performing because talent and abilities have to be seen, heard, and experienced. No one buys $500 concert tickets on faith alone! Our Creator is different. We can buy those tickets on faith alone because of what God's word says:
His timing is always good:
"For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." Habukkuk 2:3
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
He is all-knowing and plans to prosper us:
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3
He NEVER fails!
"They’ll fight you, but they won’t even scratch you. I’ll back you up every inch of the way.” Jeremiah 1:19
"The Lord Almighty has sworn, 'Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.'" Isaiah 14:24
Lay aside your skepticism for a second and entertain full belief in those verses. What would your worship (read: your life) be like if you adopted those words with full faith? I think you'd realize the real purpose of worship:
1. Worship is the only think you give back to God. I used to boycott hand-raising, swaying, and loud singing. I just thought those things were distractions; we should be singing to God in an orderly fashion! As my faith grew, I realized that when I go to church, pray, or read my Bible, I am in search of something. In my participation, I am expecting to get spiritually fed. Worship is the one thing I give back to God. Shouldn't the God we serve feel complete reverence and surrender during that time? Maybe that means singing loudly, maybe it means getting on your knees, whatever the case, it is free of pride.
2. Worship builds our faith. The Bible says it's okay to have faith the size of a mustard seed, but I honestly think I have walked into church with less that. I plop down in my seat with a dramatic sigh thinking I hope the Lord remembers me today. Even the giants of faith have had moments of doubt, but if we don't worship we stay in doubt. Whole-hearted worship is an act of putting ourselves aside to exhault who God is capable, omniscient, and love. How can our faith be restored if we allow ourselves to forget that our problems can never outgrow our God? Realigning our faith sets us up to...
3. Thank God for what He's getting ready to do. When I'm wondering if the Lord remembers me, my faith has become near-sighted. I can only think about today and yesterday. Any amount of waiting, processing, or aligning seems exhausting and unfair. When my heart remembers that His plans are to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) and they cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2), gratitude has a place to grow. Only a few moments have gone by, the situation has not changed. The gratitude is rooted in Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
The unseen deserves all the praise, all the respect, and all the faith. It's a good plan that cannot be thwarted. When we worship, we are agreeing to reinstate our confidence in a holy and perfect God by expressing reverence for not only His ways but His heart. This is the same God that traded His only son for me and asked that son to have the same faith. In having faith, Jesus was not spared one second of pain. Yet his pain saved mankind, making it worth it.