Worship has suffered from an increasingly narrowing definition over the past few years.
Consider the way we use the word. Worship Night means a night full of singing. “I really feel like I can worship there” means “I love the songs they use.” The worship pastor is really the music director.
Our concept of worship has become exclusively tied to Christian music.
Unfortunately, this version of worship – a spiritual, emotional state brought about by a rousing guitar riff or some heartfelt piano melody – not only fails to encompass the biblical concept of worship but inextricably ties worship to a state of relative inactivity and a strictly designated space and time.
When we restrict our worship to the 20-30 minutes before the preacher takes the pulpit, we’re failing to exercise our rights and duties as Christians in the New Testament age.
In John 4, the woman at the well tells Jesus that the Jewish ancestors worshipped on a mountain, but that Jesus says Jerusalem is where people ought to worship. Her concept of worship is as much tied to location as ours is to music.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)
God is spirit. He cannot be contained in a song, or on a mountain, or in a specified time frame. Our worship should not be restricted either. Rather, our entire lives should be acts and expressions of worship. Just as God is in everything, worship should permeate everything that we do. In Romans 12, Paul calls true and acceptable worship “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”
The worship we are called to is all-encompassing. It is the sanctification and sacrifice of our very selves.
There’s nothing wrong with worshipping God through song. Music was given to us by God, and it can inspire us to contemplate God’s attributes and praise him in a way that few things can.
But to limit our idea of worship limits our worship. And God deserves so much more than a chorus or two sung with raised hands. He deserves to be worshipped through all that we are.