A number of years ago I read a newspaper account of a christening party in a wealthy Boston suburb. The parents had opened their palatial home to friends and relatives, who had come to celebrate the wonderful event. As the party was moving along and the people were having a wonderful time eating, drinking, celebrating and enjoying one another, somebody said, ''By the way; where is the baby?'' The heart of the mother jumped and she instantly left the room and rushed into the master bedroom, where she had left the baby asleep in the middle of the massive bed.
The baby was dead smothered by the coats of the guests.
I've often thought about that in reference to how the Lord Jesus Christ is treated in His own Church. We think we are celebrating Him, while in reality we're preoccupied with f'ulfilling our own selfish desires, unconcerned and uncaring about the real reason we're here. One of the great tragedies of contemporary Christianity is that we have allowed the concept of worship to degenerate so that Christ can be neglected or even opposed by those who think they are worshipping Him.
What is Worship? Many are not certain what worship is. Some Christians think of worship as sitting quietly and piously, dreamily contemplating some abstract and ethereal noumenon. Other Christians see worship as liturgy-a structured system to be followed at a certain time, in a specified place with the proper atmosphere and just the right words and music. Still others equate worship with motion or emotion or even volume. To them, intense feelings, loud noise or frenzied activity are essential to fervent worship. Modern Christianity as a whole tends to view worship as an activity that takes place usually in Church on Sunday and perhaps occasionally in the prayer closet during devotions or with a Bible study group. Consequently the spate of books and articles recently published on the subject has focused largely on the forms of worship-style, order of service and ritual-often missing the real point that worship is a life-style, consuming the whole being. Worship is not just mystical, it is intensely practical. It is not rigid, void of spontaneity, but neither is it mindless emotion and activity Worship is nothing if it is not continuous, deliberate, purposeful, active and dynamic. It is all that we are, reacting rightly to all that God is.
In the Old Testament: The first mention of the word worship in the Old Testament is by Abraham. Speaking to his servants, Abraham said, we both will go up that mountain and worship God and come back to you. Genesis 22:5. Here, actually Abraham was going to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to God, in obedience to His command. The burnt sacrifice was meant to please God as a sweet smelling savor. For Abraham it was worship. The meaning for worship, is offering sacrifice to please God, laying on the altar that which is close to your heart, which you love so much!
The Hebrew word for worship in OT is ‘shaw- khaw’, meaning to prostrate, bow down to royalty or God, humbly beseech, do reverence or worship. It is more to do with external expression of respect to a superior being, by bowing down, prostrating oneself before the royalty. Since God manifested through His glory in the temple, Israelites prostrate in towards the temple.
Psalms are full of worship expressions, beautifully describing worship using these same words and adding more expressions like music and singing, etc. E.g. Psalm 95:6-7, Oh, come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker...” Also Psalm 96 and other worship Psalms.
Similarly, when the Wise men came from the East to visit the Lord Jesus when He was born, they said, they came to worship Him. In Matthew 2:11, we notice that they fell down and worshipped Him and presented to Him gold, frankincense and myrrh. So the worship involved outward expression and giving costly gifts. Thus, we see that the worship in the OT was mostly concerned with external expressions and offerings and animal sacrifices in the temple. Now let us see what the NT teaches us about worship.
In the New Testament: According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, every believer is a living, breathing temple in which God dwells. That means believers can worship anywhere, at any time-God goes with them in an abiding defense. A Christian can worship anywhere under any kind of circumstance or condition. The sphere of worship is unlimited and worship reaches its most sublime heights when the worshipper is living continuously in God's presence, in the glow of His glory, a life of worship. Biblically, worship is simply honour and adoration directed to God.
The New Testament uses several words for worship. Two of them particularly are noteworthy. The first is proskuneo, a commonly used term that literally means 'to kiss toward,' to kiss the hand,'' or to bow down.' It is the word for worship used to signify humble adoration. The second word is latreuo, which suggests rendering honour or paying homage. The Anglo-Saxon word from which we get our English word weorthscipe, which is tied to the concept of worthiness. That's appropriate, for worship is ascribing to God His worth, stating and affirming His supreme value. All of those terms carry the idea of giving and worship is what we give to God.
Modern Christianity seems committed instead to the idea that God should be giving to us. God does give to us abundantly but we need to understand that a consuming, selfless desire to give to God is the essence and the heart of worship. It begins with the giving first of ourselves and then of our attitudes and then of our possessions-until worship is a way of life...... Read more >>