Sunday, December 21, 2008

What is Worship? Part 1

Today if you ask a group of Christian people what worship is, it won’t be long before you hear someone say that music and singing are worship. They don’t qualify that statement in anyway, they just say this is what worship is. Indeed some churches put aside a special period before the service called praise worship meaning a time of singing before the service begins. If you go into a Christian bookstore or look at a Christian book store catalogue what do you find under the section called worship but “Christian” CD’s and music. These are subtle influences in our lives that we sometimes ignore the impact of and yet they are the things that tend to mould our thoughts about certain subjects. Has this influenced you and me into what we understand as worship?
Think about it bit. Does your church have Praise and Worship "Teams" that are an integral part of the "services"?

Those who play musical instruments are sometimes tempted into thinking that music and singing is what worship is all about. What we need to realise is that it’s a means of worship. So that some don’t think I have a gripe against musicians let me say my wife teaches piano and keyboard and all my children play and my wife and daughter also play in the music team at church. It is just that there is an avenue of temptation for anyone being out the front of the congregation to think that what they alone are doing is what worship is. And that’s not even considering the problem that some are even tempted to become a performer or even an entertainer [ some preachers already act this way with their actions and words moulded to entertain their listeners instead of faithfully teach the Word of God ].

Of course it’s not hard to identify with the person who wrote into and said
“I know I'm supposed to worship God when I go to church, but I can't say I always do. My thoughts wander, or I get to thinking about the people around me and I come away disappointed in myself for not really worshipping. How can I keep from being distracted? - D.H.”

That experience is not all that uncommon, and it can depend upon a lot of things, it can be that the person is that day weighed down with a lot of worldly cares, or their Church may itself not be showing the love for the brethren that works out in brotherly fellowship. It’s so common that even some pastors have at times not felt the urge on a Sunday morning to drag their feet out of bed and go to church. For them it could have been because satan is attacking them at that point in time or that there are so many “problems” happening in the church that they just don’t want to deal with, or even that bed is so warm and comfy on a cold winters day! [ which of course could be satan tempting them again :) ]

Still whilst at times there’s a temptation not to worship or of being distracted, we still need to be clear about what the Bible says Worship is.

I recently read a helpful article by Steven Shephard which referred to how the wise men came to Jesus at his birth and worshipped him. As we read about it in Matthew 2:1-2
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying ‘Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him’” (Matt. 2:1-2)

Then in Matthew 2:11 we read about having found Jesus they “fell down and worshiped Him.” The Greek word here translated "worship" means to prostrate oneself. But biblical worship implies more than the bowing down of our body. You don’t get very far in merely doing a word study of Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible and translated as “worship” in our English translation. We need to do that, but a fruitful result requires us to do more.
Here in Matthew’s Gospel we see first that the wise men came to worship Jesus and they clearly prostrate themselves before him, Matt 2:11 but is that the end of the story in Matthew 2 about worship? Is worship merely a physical prostrating of oneself before Jesus?
That’s what we shall consider next time.

In Christ

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