What is Worship?

Worship is the full-life response to who God is and what he has done.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 – ESV)

Worship encompasses every area of our lives – the things we say, think, feel, and do. In that sense, worship is not limited to engaging in song on Sunday mornings. We are always worshiping. 

“All of life is ceaseless worship. Practically, this means that while worship does include corporate church meetings, singing songs, and liturgical forms, it is not limited by these things, defined solely as these things, or expressed only in these things, because worship never stops. Rather, we are continually giving ourselves away or pouring ourselves out and what we pour ourselves into in worship is someone or something other than the Creator God…human beings are unceasing worshipers. We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, and everyone in between are unceasing worshipers. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, is always worshiping. While the object and method of worship vary, the act of worship does not.” – Mark Driscoll

In other words we are, every second of our lives, worshiping! The question isn’t when we’re worshiping – rather, it’s what are we worshiping at any given point in time? The Christian is one who has been taken from the domain of darkness as a worshiper of creation, and transferred into the kingdom of light as a worshiper of the Creator. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, our faulty, misplaced worship of creation is forgiven and paid for. Jesus’ perfect record of obedience in worship is credited to us as our very own. As we believe on Christ, we are filled with His Spirit who daily empowers us to love and worship God rather than the creation. 

It is only through Jesus’ sacrifice that our ever-worshiping hearts are made acceptable to God. 

[12] he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. [13] For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, [14] how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:12–14 – ESV)

Only Jesus can redeem our worship and bring it from death to life. Only Jesus’s work on our behalf can guarantee that our misplaced worship won’t be counted against us – that we are fully forgiven and loved by God. 

So, you might ask – what does this have to do with worship through music? 

It’s only when we rightly understand that worship encompasses all of life that we can begin to rightly lead our people in worship through song. When we sing, we call our people to turn their hearts away from worshiping worthless things to worshiping God. Throughout the week, we have been guilty of worshiping the wrong things. Our affections have been misplaced. Our desires have been self-serving. When we sing, we confess these things. We turn our eyes to Jesus. We declare and remember the truth. We spur one another on as we lift up our voices – we remind each other that we’re not alone in our pursuit of Jesus. 

Worship is the full-life response to who God is and what he has done. May our whole lives respond to God in a way that pleases him – with whole-hearted, endless devotion and praise.