Worship Beyond A Song

Back in college, before Amazon, I used to browse a prehistoric digital mall called eBay. On one day, I struck gold.

A gentleman from Ohio was selling some items his adult son had left behind. Among the forgotten artifacts was something quite rare. It was an NFL trading card, presented behind glass and held on a wooden plaque. But this was not just any card; this was Brett Favre, the famed quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, one of the most electrifying players ever, and to me, a personal hero.

I bought the card for seven dollars.

When the card arrived, I quickly handed it back to the postman and shipped it to Brett Favre's address in Green Bay, Wisconsin, hoping to see it again.

Three months later, I received a package from the same address; I could hardly contain my excitement. As I opened the package, I scrambled for the card. When I found it, I lost it, not the card—but my mind. Brett Favre had signed it and sent it back. His autograph shone in silver marker across its face, and, in my excitement, I didn't even notice the accompanying postcard.

My dreams had been fulfilled. My football hero had given Dobby a sock, filling me with joy. For weeks I talked on and on about it, constantly torn between showing it off and keeping it safe. At one point I even suggested to a friend that if I ever met Brett Favre, I would instantly become a better person, convinced that his character and charm would simply rub off.

Over the years, I spent countless hours watching his games and highlights, even adding a couple more "Favres" to my jersey collection, which I would often wear.

I idolized this man.

I worshiped him.

What Is Worship?
In most churches, we identify the music ministry leader as the “worship director.” Here at FDC, Adam Anglin is our worship and arts pastor. Naturally then, when we hear the word “worship,” we think of music. Scripture itself identifies the playing of instruments and singing as important modes of biblical worship, both then and now (Neh. 12:46; Ps. 33:1-3, 40:3; Is. 42:10; Eph. 5:19). The connection between music-making and worship is undeniable.

And yet, worship is more than a song.

With Brett Favre, I was all in. I wanted to be like Brett, act like Brett, and even dress like Brett. I thought a football player was so incredible I wanted my life to look like his.

My experience might sound extreme, but I’m willing to bet we’ve all allowed someone or something to occupy a similar space in our hearts. The point is, what I was doing was worship. Worship is a fixation, a focused, all-consuming adoration of who God is and what He’s done. Our worshipful desire then should be to be like Christ, to act like Him, and to clothe ourselves in His ways. We should be all-in for God.

Let’s discuss briefly what this looks like. Consider Paul’s teaching:

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1).

Paul instructs us to present our bodies as living, holy sacrifices. But what does that mean? In chapter 6, Paul describes this presentation as being, “not to sin . . . but . . . to God, as those who have been transformed from death to life” (Romans 6:13). In essence, worship is a presentation of our whole selves (our “bodies”) as a daily expression of our life in Christ. It’s about obedience.

If you’ll notice, this month’s Scriptures deal heavily with glorifying God and obeying His commandments. This is no coincidence. Just as your parents likely feel most honored and respected when you joyfully obey, so does God. In fact, for this purpose He gives us His Spirit, that we would grow in joyful obedience. When we obey, we show ‌we recognize God’s authority over us, His goodness towards us, and His worthiness of our obedience.

If we combine what we’ve learned so far, we can understand worship as the heartfelt living-out of all God commands. When we do this—when we pray, gather, lift our voices, and obey His instructions—when we truly live for Him, taking every opportunity to glorify God with our lives, we are practicing worship. Every sanctified act of obedience reveals our acknowledgement of God’s glory, goodness, and might.

Why We Worship
In Luke 4:8, Jesus rebukes Satan saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6 which is part of a sermon where the author urges his hearers to obey God’s Word "carefully." Why? “that it may go well with [them]” (Deut. 6:3). One of the principal reasons we seek to live worshipful, obedient lives is that such living leads to the “good life” that God intends. Following His design stirs up joy our hearts (Psalm 19:8).

However, worship is not primarily about us or what we receive from it. Worship is about our love for God and what pleases Him. If we love God, we will desire to do what He says (1 John 5:3).

Worship also flows as a response to the Lord’s goodness. He doesn’t have to be, but God is gracious and merciful towards us. One reason we pray before meals is the simple prompt the food provides; if not for God, we would lack even a paper plate on which to set a crumb. Every breath is a reason to thank God, and so we should.

And yet, it's even more simple than that: We worship God because He’s God.

The God of heaven, according to His very essence, is infinitely worthy of glory and praise. We don’t worship Him only because He blesses us, or because He created the universe, or even because He saved us. We do worship Him for these things, but consider this: God could have decided not to save a single person and He would still be loving, still be good, and still be deserving of praise. His nature alone provides for all these things. The very reality that God is God demands worship, a fact multiplied exponentially by the contrasting relationship between sinful man and a holy God.

Think about movies that feature a king. How do the common people—the peasants—react to him? Do they not throw themselves down on their faces? Though their clothing is already dirty and tattered, it is of no concern to them. Meanwhile, the king parades by in elegance, dressed in the brightest linens and flanked by a throng of handsome knights. The distinction between royalty and ordinary is great. The mere presence of the king requires reverence. And with God, this illustration reaches to cosmic heights.

God’s existence compels our worship.

How we worship
Jesus says in John 4:24, that those who worship God must worship, “in spirit and in truth.” Here, spirit means our inner-being, our hearts. We are to worship God with all that we are, our whole selves. If our worship is not heartfelt, it is wrong.

Worship must also be, “in truth,” meaning anchored in God’s Word. Worship isn’t a free-for-all, and even though many people will try to say that worship is about us and how we feel, it simply isn’t true. Worship is about God and who He is. And if God is the one who commands it, it makes sense we follow His design. To know what that is, we must go to His Word.

Worshipers in the Bible were often responding to God’s blessing. After being protected from their enemies, provided with food, or even given a fresh sense of God’s revelation, the people would break out the best wine, so to speak, to worship God with heartfelt praise. The accounts in the Old Testament are staggering. Can you imagine sacrificing 5,000 goats to God? But it wasn’t the size of the sacrifice, and it isn’t the volume of our singing that matters, it’s our hearts. Remember, both Cain and Abel offered a sacrifice, but God rejected Cain’s because his heart was wicked.

Throughout God’s Word, including February's passage in Deuteronomy 11:1-13, God describes His design for our lives. Similarly, all of His Word answers the question, “Who is God?” We cannot plead ignorance. Scripture does not leave us the option of worshiping a god of our own making. If we are to worship in spirit and truth, we must be attentive to God’s teachings. Only then can we know His will and what pleases Him.

One titan of the faith, and a generally old guy (he’s been dead for over 450 years), once said:

This is, indeed, the proper business of the whole life in which men should daily exercise themselves: to consider the infinite goodness, justice, power and wisdom of God, in this magnificent theatre of God.
— John Calvin

In English, Calvin describes worship as being more than simply the first and last fifteen minutes of the church service, singing KLOVE in the car, or anything else. It is our lifelong habit of allowing the goodness and majesty of our Creator to permeate our beings and lead us to praise Him, all while basking in the glory of His creation. As full-time Christians, we shouldn’t have a worship switch that we flip when we want to please God. Though many of us do, myself included, the hope is that we would grow together in offering ourselves in living worship.

We have many good reasons to worship God, to obey Him, and to give Him thanks. He created everything that we enjoy, including us, our families, and our friends. And He gives us everything we need, including the life of His own Son that we might live. The reasons to thank God are limitless. However, we must always remember that our worship is not contingent on receiving anything from God. We worship God because of who He is, and He is holy.
Posted in

Related Posts