WORSHIP:OUR RESPONSE TO GOD
June 1, 1987 Issue
How often have been the times we have come to worship with one simple goal: to endure through one more service? The burdens of the past week lay heavy on our minds suppressing the joys this celebration should bring. So we find ourselves enduring worship, and yet we know that worship should be meaningful and reverent. In our hunger for meaningful worship we may determine to take the initiative. We decide that if only we could be more enthusiastic at the assembly then the other brethren would imitate our zeal and worship would improve. This usually ends in disappointment. What makes worship joyful and meaningful?
The answer does not lie in our own initiative. Experience has taught that our self-determined zeal cannot give worship meaning. The answer must lie in the opposite direction. God is the one who has taken the initiative. He has extended to us His grace and love. The natural reaction of a Christian to Gods goodness is to respond to Him. This positive response finds its expression in worship. Worship is a very natural and practical response to Gods initiative. Let us examine the two central attitudes of worship to demonstrate that worship is our response to God.
REVERENCE: OUR RESPONSE TO GODS BEING
The word worship is defined as an act of reverence. The definition of the Greek word for "worship" is "to kiss towards." In ancient times when a commoner would enter the presence of a king he would kiss his hand towards the monarch as a gesture of reverence. Therefore to worship means to respond with reverence to someone greater than ourselves.
We revere God because of who He is. God alone is self-existing. All other beings are hopelessly dependent upon Him for their existence. God alone is infinite. All else is just a finite part of His expansive creation. God alone possesses intrinsic worth simply because he exists as God. All other reality is, in itself, completely devoid of value or significance. The creation possesses worth only through connection to its creator. We, as His creation, revere God in worship because there is no other appropriate response to His existence.
When Jesus saved the disciples from the storm they were compelled to worship Him because of who He was. They worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly Gods Son!" (Matt 14:33)
We cannot call our service to God worship unless we revere Him in worship. To worship God from duty and not from an awe and respect for His
being makes worship meaningless. However, if we enter the assembly with a mind that has been immersed in the truth of Gods significance, our natural response will be to revere Him in worship.
PRAISE: OUR RESPONSE TO GODS CARE FOR US
The second attitude of worship is praise for what God has done. To praise means to extol or to tell a story of commendation. Our songs, our prayers, the observance of the Lords Supper, all tell a story commending Gods great love and mercy. God is worthy of praise for all that He has done for us. Praise will be our natural response when we realize that God has done something worthy of praise. If, for example, we had been saved from drowning, we would respond with certain feelings toward our rescuer. We would feel grateful to him and eager to tell others about his bravery.
The nation of Israel was born with this spirit of praise. When Pharaoh had the Israelites penned against the Red Sea, God rescued them from certain death. What else could they do but praise God! (Exodus 15:1-18) Their worship was the natural response to what the Lord had just done for them.
In our worship we sometimes catch ourselves mouthing the words of the hymn and thinking of something entirely different. Can we call this worship when our praise is just meaningless words? Our praise worships God when our hearts and minds overflow with thanksgiving for the salvation He has provided.
LIFE MUST BE WORSHIP
If we, as Christians, know of both Gods significance and His goodness, why then do we so often come to worship lacking a spirit of reverence or a compulsion to praise?
Our problem is our concept of worship. To us worship is something we render to God in a Public assembly a few times a week. Worship is an unnatural action to those who do not worship daily. The only solution is to change our concept of worship. Our life must become worship.
God is worthy of our reverence and praise each day that we live - not just during the public worship assembly. The great works of mercy shown to us each day call us to praise God daily. The New Testament Christians worshiped daily (Acts 2:46-47a) and in private situations. Far removed from a public assembly they would praise Him (Acts 16:25). Because God was such an integral part of their lives, it was their life to worship Him. So when the public assembly rolled around, they did not arrive cold in heart and mind towards God. Their souls had been filled with reverence and praise ever since they left the last assembly.
How then does your life become worship? In response to your daily Bible Study, worship God! In your family devotions sing and pray together in worship to God! As you go about your daily tasks sing songs of praise, worshiping God! Through the week meet with other Christians for private Bible study to worship God!
When worship is a daily part of life, the public worship of the church will take on new significance and meaning. But we must begin with reverence and praise for who God is and what He has done.
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