What distinguishes Christians from other people? Many answers might be given, but above all Christians are distinguished by their worship. This distinguishes them from those of no religion and from adherents of other religions. This offers a valuable means of discerning our spiritual health. Continuing our Spiritual Check-up we ask: 5. Do you delight in worship?
1. What is worship?
It is sometimes said, ‘All of life is worship.’ All of life is to be lived for God’s glory, but we need a more specific definition, faithful to Scripture. ‘Worship is the activity of glorifying God in his presence with our voices and hearts’ (Wayne Grudem). We acknowledge God’s greatness by performing the actions he prescribes, ‘in the beauty of holiness’ (Psalm 96:9). In Hebrews 12:22ff the worship of heaven is described. On earth we reflect something of that.
2. Whom do we worship?
Despite what our pluralist society tells us, all objects of worship are not equal. There is only one God who is to receive worship – he is properly ‘jealous’ (Exodus 20:5) and will not give his glory to another (see Isaiah 48:11). So whom do we worship?
(i) The God revealed in Scripture. We worship him as he reveals himself to be in the Bible, not in any way we imagine. Only thus can we avoid idolatry.
(ii) The God who is Triune. Fundamental to truly Christian worship is the triune nature of God. We worship one God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. Why do we worship?
(i) God is worthy of worship. That is the fundamental reason. We accord the Triune God the worship that is due to him: ‘you are worthy’ (Revelation 4:11).
(ii) God commands our worship. Worship is not optional. His command is ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’ (Matthew 4:10). We show love by obeying that call.
(iii) We need to worship. We were created for worship, as bearers of God’s image. Thus worship expresses and feeds our relationship with the Lord – a crucial means of grace.
4. How do we worship?
(i) Through Christ. We come in worship consciously depending on Christ for access and forgiveness. He is the ‘one Mediator between God and men’ (1 Timothy 2:5).
(ii) In the Spirit. Note John 4:24 ‘in Spirit and in truth’. The Spirit must empower our worship – ‘worship by the Spirit of God’ (Philippians 3:3). He fills us with holy zeal.
(iii) By grace. We and our worship are always imperfect. We approach God seeking grace and forgiveness of sin. We are to have the holiness that is essential (Hebrews 12:14).
(iv) With discipline. We must give ourselves to worship. The Enemy will do all he can to hinder us. We need a disciplined commitment to worship, showing how we value it.
(v) With joy. To spend time in the Lord’s presence with his people should rejoice our hearts. It is a good test of our spiritual health: do you delight in worship?