But What Does the Bible Say About Worship?

By March 12, 2014 Worship No Comments

I was reading a blog recently attempting to define worship, which is a worthwhile task if you’re involved in a ministry of leading people in worship.

Unless you know what you’re meant to be doing, how can you lead effectively?

I applaud any attempt to define worship because I think it’s important for those involved in leading others in worship to know what they’re trying to get people to do – what makes corporate or private worship different from other parts of our lives.

I read lots of descriptions containing various truths about worship but I still couldn’t really pin down what was meant by all this. A lot of good things were being said but I was left wondering where all the ideas came from. I have seen very few teachings or descriptions of worship written recently that start with the Bible.

We are constantly fed ideas such as “worship is the whole of our lives”, “everything we do is worship”, “it’s a lifestyle”, but very little is said about what makes worship worship. What is it really? What content is there in the word that distinguishes it from, say, prayer, or anything else for that matter.

I rarely see anyone attempting to show from a study of the whole Bible that worship is everything we do. If we look at people worshiping from Genesis to Revelation, we find them doing something specific, they’re not doing anything else. There are times when they worship and there are times when they’re not. How complicated can this be?

Remember, if worship is everything, then it’s nothing in particular.

This not only confuses our understanding but it eventually becomes a philosophy that contains the seeds of worship’s destruction.

Our first understanding of worship must come from the plain meaning of scripture, which overwhelmingly uses worship more in a specific, rather than a general sense. It might be OK to say that because our lives give honor and glory to God, than our lives are, in that sense, worship, but the Bible rarely uses the word worship that way.

In a short blog, it’s not possible to do an extensive study, or to comment on the various theories usually put forth, but if you’re at all interested in wrestling with this subject then check out a piece I have written. It’s not for the casual reader or the faint-hearted, but if you’ve had doubts about “worship as a lifestyle” and would like to get into a bit of study, then it’s for you. Download here

Let’s get into the Bible, look at examples of people worshiping, ask questions such as “who is worshiping?”, “how are they worshiping?”, “what prompted them and why are they worshiping?”, “when and where are they worshiping?” and “what are they communicating by worshiping?” We should do this in both the Old and New Testaments and ask what, if any, are the differences. We could then be a little more confident in declaring something of what the Bible says is worship instead of beginning with our own culturally programmed presuppositions.

I’ve found a few other blogs on worship that also challenge us to question the idea that everything we do is worship. . .