“I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart; and I will glorify thy name for evermore.” … Psalm 86:12
During our current “stay-at-home” situation, many people have been getting their weekly dose of worship on the internet, or sitting in their cars in a church parking lot. And I, for one, am glad so many have such options. It was not so not too many years ago.
Still, I have heard people say they miss being in church; they miss the fellowship; they miss the sense of community they feel when they are actually in the church building with other believers. And I get it, I really do.
One thing I have heard people say is that they miss “the worship.” Sometimes I’m not sure what they mean: whether they are saying the music portion of the service, or the entire service. Whether they are talking about what has become a time of “entertainment” in some churches, or that time that seems to be meant to prepare the congregation for what is to come from the pulpit. Either way, I thought I would address something that comes to mind whenever I hear people say they miss “the worship.”
What is genuine worship? Well, I have my own thoughts on the subject. Please note, this is not meant to be an exhaustive treatise on worship. Just a few personal thoughts.
First and foremost, genuine worship glorifies God. The Psalm I shared at the beginning of this piece speaks of praising and glorifying God with all your heart, and forever.
True worship recognizes the greatness of God, the awesomeness of God, the splendor of his presence, and the glory of his grace. He is the God of the mountains; he causes them to quake and then shakes into silence again. He is the God who sits far above the earth enthroned in magnificent splendor.
Dare we approach him unless he says to come? And when he bids us to come, we must come to glorify his name, and no other.
Genuine worship also magnifies Jesus. Psalm 34:1-3 says … “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”
In the New Testament we read that the early church observed the Lord’s Supper at least every Lord’s day, if not more often. They wanted to be reminded of the source of their life and the sustenance of their faith. Every time we worship, Jesus the Christ must be the center of everything we do, say, teach and preach.
In addition, genuine worship purifies the worshiper. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us … “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith: prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates (unless you fail the test).”
Worship should be a time of examination and confession. It is a time of reflection and renewal. It is a time when we can meet God and he can meet with us. And that should surely be a purifying experience.
Finally, genuine worship should propel believers into the world as different people. Romans 12:2 says … “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
Genuine worship should make a difference in the way we live our lives. It transforms the life of the church and sends us into the world as transformed people. True worship is never a diversion from the world, but a time of preparation for work in the world.
Sometimes we worship for the wrong reasons. We do it out of obligation, or to get that “fuzzy” feeling, or to prepare the congregation for what we have predetermined should be the “main event” – the preaching.
In summary, I submit to you that genuine worship glorifies God, magnifies Jesus, purifies the worshiper, and changes us. If we’re not worshipping for these reasons, then why worship at all?