In many of our experiences with the church today the word worship has come to mean many things. We use it as a generic term for a weekly church gathering when we say, “Join us for Sunday worship”. The term is used to refer to the musical portions of our gatherings. I’m sure you’ve heard or said similar statements as, “The worship was [insert your opinion] today.” Followed by, “And [or at least] the sermon was great!” Many times, we say “traditional worship” or “contemporary worship” to describe the style and atmosphere of a gathering. The list could go on.
With all the murky waters of definition the question could be asked, what is the true essence of worship anyway? I will assume that many of you reading this have heard many preachers and teachers discuss this topic in the past. You have probably already heard how Miriam-Webster defines worship (with the definition of the British title removed):
- reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence
- a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
- extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
And I’m going to assume that we all understand that “worship” is much larger than a gathering or music or a style preference. Worship is intertwined in our lives. With worship permeating our lives, who and/or what we worship is of supreme significance (John 4:24). Biblically we should all understand that worship is not for us.
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29-30). This is a worship issue. Furthermore, the Apostle Peter raises the bar for us. He reveals to us that followers of Jesus are not simply by-standers but have been brought into a royal priesthood.
1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
And why have we been made participants in a royal priesthood? Peter answers, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you…”. Proclaiming is an action. It takes participation. It is to declare publicly, insistently, and proudly (2 Corinthians 10:17). However, there is more to being a priest. Next time we’ll look at the main role of a priest.