What Is Worship?

3 11 2009

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Online Worship Theology Coursewith Dan Wilt

After watching the DVD “What Is Worship?” I am keen to reflect on the idea of the direction of our worship. Who or what do we as humans worship? In a society that increasingly claims to not believe in God, it is evident that other things are claiming people’s attention and in turn their worship, things other than the Triune God. Dan Wilt suggests that it is important to consider these big questions of worship as we “become like that which we worship.” 1 Louie Giglio makes a crucial statement about tracing our actions to the source, to discover some answers.

“So how do you know where and what you worship?  It’s easy: You simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your allegiance.  At the end of that trail you’ll find a throne, and whatever, or whoever, is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you.  On that throne is what you worship.” 2

Often we do not stop to consider our priorities in life, even when we accept verbally and in our hearts that there is a saving God of grace who deserves our worship. We fail to actually consider what worship means in our life. In the Old Testament for the Israelites under God’s covenant, worship was a fundamental consideration to all aspects of their living. We need to revisit our understanding of worship regularly. Definitions of worship are numerous and often complex but Wilt gives this definition and in light of Giglio’s comment it is quite important.

“Worship is the ascription of ultimate value and worth to a person, place or thing by the focusing of all activities of the human spectrum on that object’s value and honour” 3

Now as a Christian it is easy to nod and agree but what would be the response of a person who is not a Christian to this definition? Often I think our society places worship only within the religious realm. It is an idea for the followers of a particular faith but not relevant to all other members of society. After all, some countries and societies adhere to the separation of church and state as an essential value. It is not difficult then to understand why so many would not equate how they live their life, with the term worship.

This is also a huge challenge for Christians. If we are considering that our lives reflect what we worship then how we live is a huge witness to society, but more importantly a huge statement to the God we worship. God is described as “enthroned as great sovereign King” 4 by Don Williams in the DVD. This God would obviously call us to evaluate our worship, calling us to direct more of our lives to Him through the Holy Spirit.

The idea of compartmentalizing our life of worship is also explored in this DVD. The Jewish culture saw worship as holistic. This nature was questioned through the idea of the sacred/secular dichotomy in philosophical thought. This has led to a huge divide between these two ideas, impacting not only our society’s view of worship but also the church’s view. Although a number of theologians and leaders (such as Dan Wilt and N.T Wright) are calling Christians to reconsider this view, the prevalence of this thought has influenced the global church dramatically.

“Acts of worship spring from the overflow of a life that is already given over to His worship” 5

A true worshipper should be on the trajectory of living life coram Deo – that is a life in the presence of God. This means that they are attempting to offer to God all their acts of life as an act of worship. There will be no consideration of certain acts being worship and other acts being non-worship. This dangerous mentality is what society’s view of worship is.

We also have to realise the draw of life’s things on the way we live. That is the things of this world that draw us away from worshipping God. Perhaps drawing us to worship created things and not the Creator, as Paul writes in Romans 1. If we are to really consider the influences of other ‘gods’ on our life, we need to consider seriously what our actions, time and thoughts reveal about who or what it is that receives our worship. If, as Dan Wilt reminds us at the conclusion of the DVD, worship is the all-of-life response suggested in Romans 12, we must consider how our life is played out. Dan Wilt concludes the DVD with this reflection:

“What then is worship? ‘Worship is a whole life response to the all surpassing love of God’” 6

 

 

(1) Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(2) Louie Giglio, The Air I Breathe: Worship As A Way Of Life (Multnomah, 2003), p.11

(3) Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(4) Don Williams, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(5) Dan Wilt, What Is Worship? (Vineyard Worship Resouces, 2006), DVD

(6) ibid


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