What is Worship
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.A. W. Tozer, 2015
We often speak of unity among believers. While striving for unity may be a worthwhile effort, indeed one the Apostle Paul encouraged, we most resemble harmony when we worship, focused on ascribing worth to our God!
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV
What worship is not —
Tozer challenges us as he questions – when was the last time we indicated that “the fellowship of God is delightful beyond telling?” Or are we more ho-hum during the week, with a mild case of worship on the weekend?
Jesus points to the Pharisees as examples of what not to do how not to be. The Pharisees were masters at checking off the list of righteous activities … indeed they had their daily quiet time, read their Bibles, memorized scripture, attended all the services, tithed from their “gross” salary, not the “net,” and more! But Jesus called them white-washed sepulchers, tombs, death and decay inside, with bright white paint outside. A picture of false appearances, hypocrisy.
Worship is more than attending services on Sunday, even more than listening attentively, singing loudly, and praying publicly.
What worship is —
When we become children of God, He fills us with His Spirit. The Spirit is our teacher and under His tutelage, we go deeper in our knowledge and relationship with God.
- He wants to lead us on in our love for Him who first loved us.
- He wants to cultivate within us the adoration and admiration of which He is worthy.
- He wants to reveal to each of us the blessed element of spiritual fascination in true worship.
- He wants to teach us the wonder of being filled with moral excitement in our worship, entranced with the knowledge of who God is.
- He wants us to be astonished at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God! Tozer, 2006
Worship is being captivated by our God, his mercy, kindness, goodness, and majesty. Worship is an awe-filled wonder that the God of the universe, the Master Designer, loves us thoroughly and longs for an uninhibited relationship with us.
The blessed and inviting truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings, and in our worship of Him we should find unspeakable pleasure.A. W. Tozer, 2006
What worship looks like —
Worship may look different from person to person, but it has certain qualities. One is that we come humbly to God, imperfections and all. We don’t hide behind the fig leaves of piety or moralism or good works, but instead offer to God the only thing we have, ourselves, plain and simple. God knows who we are inside and out. He knows what we think are our secrets, and he is not put off by what we want to hide. Instead, he wants to cleanse us, remove our sins, and remember them no more. Worship has the element of honesty, transparency, vulnerability because with God, we are safe.
With a proper view of ourselves, we throw ourselves on God’s mercy and recognize who He is … entirely in awe of Him! Tozer puts it like this …
When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is near.
You may never have realized it before, but all of those elements in our perception and consciousness of the divine Presence add up to what the Bible calls “the fear of God.”…
There are very few unqualified things in our lives, but I believe that the reverential fear of God mixed with love and fascination and astonishment and admiration and devotion is the most enjoyable state and the most purifying emotion the human soul can know.A. W. Tozer, 2006
Warren Wiersbe defines worship as “the loving response of all that we are – mind, emotions, will, body — to all that God is, says, and does.” This loving response is reverential fear, awe, fascination, astonishment, admiration, and devotion. A deep, deep love!
May we worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: O come, let us adore him.
Tozer, A. W. (2006). Whatever Happened to Worship? A Call to True Worship. United States: WingSpread Publishers.
Tozer, A. W. (2015). The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine. United States: Moody Publishers.
Having been raised in a tradition where “worship” was a wild mix of expected patterns and chaotic emotion, lots of loud music and dancing, it was very hard for me to be moved to a church as a teen where the service was quieter and more planned and orderly. It took many years, and I still wrestle at times, to learn that true worship is all about HIM, and not about our experience… and yet He often graciously allows us to experience pleasure as we fall in awe of Him. I really appreciated your description and encouragement here!
Angela – I appreciate your thoughts! I so understand. I have been in churches that were more emotional, some others were more academic and heady. But I am finding that no matter where we are, walking the neighborhood, sitting at the dinner table, or in “any” church setting, His Spirit meets us … oh what glorious thought! Our God is so good and gracious.