We talk about "worship" often, but what is it? We know that worship often includes music, but thanks to Matt Redman’s song from a few years back, we know that it is “more than a song.” We also know that people have been worshiping from the very beginning (as we see in Genesis), the Gospels show us how people bowed down and worshiped Jesus when he was on earth, and John the Revelator envisions all of creation worshiping God for all eternity. In fact, our worship is so important that Paul said in Romans 1 that when we do not worship God fully, firstly, and rightly, it results in darkness, confusion, and sin that unravels the very fabric of who we are designed to be.
So what then is worship? Think of it like this: your heart has a throne in the middle of it, and whoever (or whatever) you value the most is who sits on that throne as the king of your life. Whatever you do in service to and adoration of that king is worship. That is why Jesus said that the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
To be clear, there is only space enough for one king to sit on your heart’s throne - meaning you can only ultimately worship one thing. Or as Jesus also said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). And from that fateful day that Adam and Eve reached out to grab that forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, we all get to choose who we worship in this life. But as every true Christian already knows, only the one, true God makes a good God because he is both satisfying when worshiped and forgiving when failed. As the Psalmist declared, “The LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3)
In a way, we have the opportunity every day of our lives who or what we will put on the throne of our heart and worship with our thoughts, our words, our actions, and even our attitudes. That is why Paul explained worship as the simple act of presenting our bodies as “living” sacrifices that are “holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). Because worship is not just a one time ordeal just like marriage isn’t a one-and-done event: it is an adventure that lasts our entire life.
Which leads us to this final thought: worship is really part of our discipleship. By that I mean that worship is an essential part of our lives as we walk in obedience to God. The closer we walk with God, the more in-tune our worship to him is. But when we stray away from him, our worship is like a out-of-tune piano that hurts everyone's ears.
So whether you are worshiping by yourself at home, work, or school or you are alongside other worshipers gathered together (the true meaning of the “the Church”) and no matter what flavor of tradition you prefer, make sure that Jesus alone is enthroned in your heart. When he is, then you can follow along with Moses’s call for worshipers to: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Ps. 95:6-7).