Worship Defined Part II: Heaven on Earth
Ok, so last time, we took a rather scholastic look at worship. This time, I’d like to focus on what all that Greek and Hebrew stuff means for us.
Clearly, based on what we saw last time, praise and worship has nothing to do with music and everything to do with us. A lot of people, myself included, were raised in churches that were not demonstrative in how we worshiped in church. We never raised our hands in my church and it took me a long time to get comfortable with that concept. Once I did, though, I found that I was able to express my own feelings and responses in a much deeper way. The simple act of raising open hands makes surrender easier. Now I’m not saying that if you don’t raise your hands during corporate worship that you can’t worship. I am saying that worshiping with abandon deepens our experience and desire for the renewal that worship provides.
And clearly, worship must occur outside the walls of the church. When applied to your life properly, worship invades every single aspect of your life, from how you act at home and the office, to what you do on a Saturday night. Worship is a response to all God has done and all of who He is. Worship is the continual act of choosing to replace our humanity with holiness. Worship is service to others. Worship is giving of both our time and our treasures. Worship is putting the needs of others before ourself. Worship is absolutely life-changing.
I’m going to steal the practical application of these definitions from Ray Stedman (although it might have originated elsewhere…)
“Prayer is our occupation with our human needs and problems. We come to God with our needs and ask for His supply.
Praise is the occupation of our minds with His blessings. We are thinking of all that God has done for us and give thanks for how He has blessed us.
Worship is our occupation with God Himself, with the greatness of His being.”
Here’s the thing: Our souls were not created for life on earth. We are meant for heaven. This time on earth can suck the life out of us because we weren’t designed for this. Worship is God’s way of allowing us a bit of heaven on earth. When we come together on Sunday morning and join with the Family of God in praise and adoration, we are re-creating an angelic choir. When we serve others, we are serving God. When we give money to God, we are acknowledging that nothing we have is truly ours; everything is a gift from God.
Choosing to surrender all that we are to God is a daunting task, but it is crucial if we are to thrive on this foreign soil. After all, Jesus came to bring us abundant life. We are not meant simply to survive. We were meant to thrive! And Worship is the means by which we live that abundant life.
Obviously, worship is a giant subject that you could (and should) spend years studying. But after this brief sojourn, I hope that you take the time to take God at His Word. If we make a conscious decision to surrender all that we are to God by living a life of worship 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, God will completely transform our lives.