What is Christian worship?

The worship of God is a mega-theme of the entire Bible. In the remainder of this chapter we will provide an overview of worship and how this includes the priorities we hold, money we spend, and activities we choose. To begin with, we will look at two key New Testament Scriptures about worship that help serve as a frame in which a life of worship is painted for God’s glory and our joy.

Romans 11:36–12:1 says, “To him be the glory forever. Amen. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

First, worship is who/what we live for. The language of “glory” speaks of who/what weighs heaviest on your heart and in your life as your priority. Who/what is in the glory position lives at the center of your life and your life revolves around them/it. This can be God, another person, your job, success, beauty, status, hobby, comfort, pet, etc.

Second, worship is how we live. When the Bible speaks of worship, it often does so in terms of sacrifice. Since we have limited time, energy, thoughts, money, and emotion, we must decide where to spend it. Who/what you make the biggest sacrifices for is how you worship who/what you hold in the glory position. For example, the lazy person lives for comfort, the addict lives for pleasure, and the people pleaser lives for approval.

As a Christian, it is possible to belong to God and get sidetracked from living as a worshipper of God. We’ve all done it. Sometimes, we even get upset with God and try to use Him to get what we really want to worship instead of worshipping Him alone. Here’s a few diagnostic questions to check your soul:

  1. Who or what do I make sacrifices for?
  2. Who or what is most important to me?
  3. If I could have any possession or experience I wanted, what would that be?
  4. Who or what makes me the happiest?
  5. What is the one person or thing I could not live without?
  6. What do I spend my money on?
  7. Who or what do I devote my time to?
  8. What dominates the thoughts of my mind?
  9. When I have extra time, money, or energy where do I invest it?
  10. On a bad day, where do I turn for comfort?

Christian worship is not just a musical style, religious issue, something that happens in a church building, or something that starts and stops although it does include all of those things. The Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” [FOOTNOTE: 1 Corinthians 6:20, 10:31] In some ways, worship involves every nook and cranny of life.

One of the more insightful sections of Scripture on worship is Hebrews 13:15–17, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

In this section we see that worship includes:

  • Praise: Who or what do you praise most passionately and frequently?
  • Proclamation: How commonly and clearly do you confess Jesus Christ in the words you speak, type, and sing?
  • Service: Are you one who serves others with gladness in response to God so faithfully serving you? Or are you someone who prefers to be served rather than to serve? Do you serve when it is inconvenient or unnoticed, or when you are unmotivated?
  • Love: Are you an active participant in the life of your church and community? Do you give your time, talent, and treasure to share God’s love in tangible ways with others?
  • Generosity: For whom or what do you sacrifice your time, health, emotion, money, and energy? What do these acts of worship reveal about what you have chosen to deify in your life?
  • Submission: Are you submissive to godly authority or do you tend to ignore or rebel against godly authority (e.g., parent, teacher, pastor, or boss)?

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