By Javan Rowe
There is much confusion today in the area of worship. Many seem to believe worship simply involves standing at our seats during the church service, half-moving our lips to the songs being “performed.” Even when we sing out wholeheartedly, raising our hands to the heavens, the tendency is to swipe our time card afterward, indicating our weekly worship has been fulfilled.
Worship of God involves seeing him as he truly is and praising him as the Lord and King over all. The fact is we are all worshippers of something, whether that devotion is toward God, creation, certain individuals, or even ourselves. We must make the decision regarding whom we will worship, as Joshua did when he announced, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
The greatest way to figure out how to worship the Lord is to contemplate his attributes and praise him for those. Though they seem countless, we will consider three—God’s love, righteousness, and wisdom.
God Initiates Love
Perhaps the greatest declaration of God’s love is found in 1 John, where it says, “God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (4:8-10).
God’s initiative to bring his love to us is amazing. We are wholly dependent on the Lord as creator, redeemer, and sustainer. Rather than being a wicked tyrant lording power over us, he saves us out of his immense love for us. Though we are separated from God by a large sin chasm, God’s unfailing love provides a way through that divide. He desires for us to be with him for all eternity.
God’s love sustains us in ways we would expect from a patient father. When we are cowered in confusion, God’s love provides the acceptance we need, even when answers are not present. We never have to worry about doing something so terrible that he turns his back on us forever. He is the loving Father waiting anxiously for us to return to him so he can welcome us back and demonstrate the love he has never ceased in giving.
God takes a love initiative; it’s that simple. We cannot take credit even for the worship we present to the Lord—God stirs our hearts to worship him. God initiates every step of the way in the areas of head, heart, and hope. All we can do is accept this and be filled with awe and wonder at the magnificence of our God.
God Demonstrates Righteousness
The psalmist said, “You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy” (Psalm 119:137, 138). God’s righteousness means he is the standard of what is morally right and he acts according to that perfect standard. God demonstrated his righteousness through the Old Testament law—which proved impossible for the Israelites—before revealing it perfectly in his Son, Jesus Christ. “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known . . .
through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21, 22).
A key to worship is focusing on God’s righteousness, discovered through prayer, Scripture, and the Spirit. We praise him for not only going ahead and leading as an example but also coming along beside us and directing us. We are not left to figure it out on our own. Part of worship means following his lead, copying those attributes we see, and conditioning our lives by his high standards. The more we know about God, his character, and what he expects of us, the greater our ability to conform our lives to him.
Worship of God cannot exist when we hold tightly to the things of this world. Rather, we must die to self. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We are to cut off any part of us that is bringing us down spiritually. When we die to self, we are not really dying but are becoming increasingly more awake, readying ourselves for God’s kingdom to permeate our present existence.
God Is Wisdom
Whether we realize it or not, the television programs we watch, the songs we hear on the radio, and the books we purchase all preach their own philosophies. Our culture has much it wishes to teach us, inundating us with vast amounts of knowledge, but these lessons often lack true wisdom. God’s wisdom surpasses all other supposed wisdom: “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers” (Psalm 119:98, 99).
The Lord created us for fellowship with him, and he desires to pass his wisdom on to us, which is how we interact with our own children. God, in all of his wisdom, is the greatest teacher we could hope for. He promises to provide wisdom that will excel that of our peers. After all, seeking wisdom is seeking the mind of God, and when we worship the Lord, we worship one who is wise beyond comprehension.
Godly wisdom begins with the question, “Who is ruling in our lives?” We may be quick to respond, “Of course God is ruler over my life. I’m a Christian, aren’t I?” It’s not that easy though. Our fallen nature gives us an urge to be our own masters. We must resist this urge and consistently turn every area of our lives over to God, trusting in his wisdom and making him Lord.
We need the sweetness of wisdom. We can make it through life without sweets, but who wants to? A little sugar gives taste to dishes and enjoyment to our palates. The same is true of God’s wisdom. It can spice up a rather drab life. When we worship the Lord as the God of supreme wisdom, we ready ourselves to learn from him—not only can we live as he intends, but we can also pass that godly wisdom on to others.
Worship in Action
The reformers of the sixteenth century held worship up as a theme as important as grace. These theologians desired to know what worship looked like. I believe the same question should be asked today. Worship must be more than a point of theology; it must initiate action.
The reality is, many people enter church with a desire to get something. If they do not receive the proper amount of goods that bring about the right emotional response, then it must be the fault of the minister, the music director, or others. True worship should instead involve the question, “Lord, what do you want of me? I offer myself fully to you.”
When we view the Lord correctly, we naturally develop a willingness to learn more about God and his will and then put that knowledge into practice by submitting to him. Psalm 119:48 says, “I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments” (New American Standard Bible). Lifting up our hands is a way of saying we release ourselves to God.
Worship sees God in all his sacrificial love, perfect righteousness, and omniscient wisdom. It praises him for who he is. Rather than hoarding this knowledge of the Lord, we must pass these attributes of love, righteousness, and wisdom on to others.
Worshipping God is our sole purpose. We were not personally formed in the womb in order to simply get the most out of life before we die. We are to lift God up in worship and live our lives in service of him daily. He has been so faithful—how can we help but to worship him?
Javan Rowe is a freelance writer in Columbus, Ohio.