Ex 20:3-5a "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”
When we talk about worship, what do we mean? Once, while studying the meaning of daily worship in a group, one person commented that he saw no point in discussing worship. To him, worship was what we did together in church on Sunday. Is that all worship means to us – gathering together and singing on Sundays? What is the short answer we can give to what worship means? I am sure we all have some idea but what is real worship? The answer will help us to understand what false worship is.
‘Worship’ comes from an archaic English word ‘worth-ship’ meaning ‘to ascribe worth or value to something or someone’. We worship someone or something because that person or object is valuable to us. That means, in the world everyone, Christians, non-Christians, atheists, politicians, millionaires, students, teenagers, etc. worships. Politicians worship power, millionaires worship money, atheists worship themselves and others may worship a force or a way of life. Thus, worship is a universal phenomenon. The only things that do not worship are animals because they have no sense of the spiritual. So for human beings, it is not whether we worship or not because everyone does, but what or who do we worship? Who is the pre-eminent object of our affections, the centre of our very lives and hearts? Either we worship the true God or we worship another god of our own making.
True worship is to attribute worth to a real Being, one who is truly there and also truly worthy of worship. False worship then is to attribute ultimate worth to an illusion which is not really there or it could also be a material object like a car, that dream home or money that cannot respond to our worship. It could also not be worthy, like another human being, who has the same frail and depraved nature as us.
Therefore what is true worship? I hearken back to a song which goes, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, all about you Jesus…” Worship is all about God and his son Jesus. It must always be directed towards God and God only. As the above text commands, worship is to be expressed towards God because of who He is, what He has done and His worthiness.
We must then ask does worship help me experience God's presence in beauty and power in a manner consistent with his Word. In worship, am I in touch with the real God? We can have worship experiences that do not reflect the reality of God. They may reflect God in a distorted way. They may affect our emotions yet leave us empty once we exit the sanctuary. We may have swooned to the music and amen-ed our way through the message but yet exit without learning anything about the real God. True worship will send us out knowing we have been in the presence of the real God because we know something more of his greatness, his mercy, his compassion and his love. It will prompt us to respond by wanting to testify, by word or actions, in our daily lives, what he really means to us. Will this be your experience today?