When you think of the word worship, what first comes to mind? The melody of your favorite worship song? A special time of worship that truly changed your life? Or maybe you simply think of the part of a church service typically dedicated to singing.
It is pretty standard to hear a few songs at the beginning of a church service and maybe a song or two at the end as well. The testimonies of what can happen in those dedicated times of praise and worship can be incredible. But is worship something that only happens at church during the time of corporate singing? What would it mean to live our lives as an act of worship? What would shift if worship was a part of our daily lives?
The various dictionary definitions of worship are full of words like reverence, respect, adoration, honor, and devotion, and often refer to a divine being. It is clear that worship encompasses far more than singing. Biblically speaking, worship is something we were created for—something we do whether we are conscious of it or not.
But where are we focusing our worship?
It is an important, life-changing choice to aim our worship in the right direction, pointing our worship to the only One deserving of our praise, the Lord God almighty. Surely this adoration and reverence should not be limited to roughly twenty minutes of singing in church each week! The answer to the question of what worship should be is found in Scripture.
Worship as an Offering:
In the Old Testament we see a confused, yet obedient Abraham willing to offer his promised son Isaac—an act of worship and obedience. In response to Abraham’s obedience, God, Jehovah Jireh, provides an offering in Isaac’s stead. Through God’s provision, Abraham’s obedience and unwavering trust in God was offered instead of Isaac (Genesis 22:1–19).
What would happen in our homes specifically if we were obedient in our offering, like Abraham? Abraham could have said, “No way, you can’t have him. You promised him to me for so long. He’s mine!” But then Abraham would have missed out on the intimacy of seeing how God showed up for him in that moment. Obedience is difficult. The world is rooting for us to step out and disobey. But what would it look like to worship and adore Jesus through our obedience? Love God above all! When the world’s way seems easier, know that God’s way is best and abundant.
Worship as a Pouring Out:
In the New Testament we see Mary pour out, quite literally, her most precious earthly possession at the feet of Jesus. An alabaster jar of fine perfume, worth an entire year’s wages, anointed the feet of Jesus. This shows Mary’s recognition that Jesus is actually her most worthy and priceless treasure. This is a heart postured towards Jesus in reverence and adoration, giving him everything (John 12:1–11).
What changes when we pour out our everything at the feet of Jesus? Perhaps most notably, our perspective changes. Mary approached Jesus with an eternal perspective as opposed to an earthly perspective. This way of viewing reality shifts each moment, each thing, each joy, each trial to something seen through the lens of eternity. Jesus is the most precious gift. When we give him our everything, we place him at the center of our lives, knowing he is the most important part.
Worship to Break Chains:
One of the most famous stories of worship is when Paul and Silas sang praise to the Lord in prison and their chains quite literally came loose, freeing them. Imagine the setting: They are in a dark, hopeless place and, in that moment, choose to hold on and look towards the One who is hope, the light of the world who has defeated darkness (Acts 16:16–34).
When hope seems lost—whether in a situation or a relationship or a hard-to-break sin habit—how might we place hope in the one true hope? Paul and Silas were literally in prison; no one would have faulted them for sitting in misery. Instead, they worshiped. What personal or generational bondages can be broken when we fight our battle through worship, seeking closeness to Jesus and praising him for being Immanuel, God with us, always?
Worship in Celebration:
David is seen dancing in a moment of praise and celebration as he returns the ark of the Lord. He is unashamed to praise God fully and expressively. He does not care who is watching! The king of the land is praising the King of Kings! (2 Samuel 5:17–6:15).
Worship in triumph! There are large and small triumphs all around us. When we open our eyes to see how God is working in our lives, beautiful revelations begin to occur. We can see his work in what others might call luck or coincidence, but we know it is divine intention. We can see the beauty of God’s creation and praise the maker of that sunset, that flower, that stream. We have our eyes opened to who God has brought into our life at just the right time. Praise him for his provision! What victory has been won? Praise him and glorify the One in whom we have victory.
A Lifestyle of Worship
In these beautiful examples, we see life being lived in acts of worship. We see worship through obedience, worship in trust and offering, a pouring out of what is precious on earth to adore the One who is eternally precious now and forever. In all of these stories, we see people placing God in the position of importance and focus.
What will happen when we adapt these practices for use in our workplace, in our schooling, in our friendships, in our home? Imagine the shifts and revivals if we lived in constant adoration of Jesus, focusing on him! This lifestyle of worship is a radical life. It is an abundant life. It is a life that creates an intimacy with the One worthy of our praise.
Worship is a lifestyle! It is recognizing and praising the only One deserving of our praise in everything we do.
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