I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a context of worship, but if you have, you may have questions about it. Depending on where you’ve been and what was going on while you were there, you may have found some of it to be pretty confusing. What are they doing?…And why are they doing it?! you may have thought.
Depending on how you approach things like this, you may have voiced your questions to someone there–perhaps even to someone “in charge.” You may have left disappointed with the answer you got or maybe you decided that things were just as ridiculous as you first assumed and therefore it was high time for you to get thyself hence.
I hope I’m not assuming to much. If you’re not in the place I describe, that’s just fine. Then again, if you are, then I hope you’ll be blessed in some way by this post. You see, if you’re not satisfied with your perception or experience of what worship is, I would like to share with you what I believe worship is and how it has changed my life. I don’t believe that worship is stiff or strategic, nor do I believe that it is shallow or wholly sensational. I know it to be sweet but also something to which salty tears and sorrow are not foreign. I believe worship is the purest uttering of the soul before God.
By this I do not mean that our worship is innately pure–that everything we express is holy and perfect–nor do I mean to infer that it must be. God is not looking for us to make ourselves perfect when we approach Him. For the truth is, if we had to approach Him with adequate worship all by ourselves, we would be removed from His courts for our insolence and depravity. We do not worship God first, we worship ourselves. We only know ourselves and naturally hold allegiance only too ourselves.
Christ knew this was the way it is with the natural born man (and woman). Therefore, He came to make a difference in the relationship between God and man. He came to bridge the gap between where we are and where God is by uniting both of our natures simultaneously in the body of Jesus. Without Him, there was no compatibility between the Divine and the divine-forsaking human, so He became the One to link the two with grace. He came from God with the authority to destroy the penalty and power of sin over man and cause the righteousness of God to triumph where humans have always failed in pleasing God.
Worship–the whole sum of a life that is pleasing to God–is impossible without Jesus Christ being at the center of it. When Christ lives within you, He brings the desires of God into your heart–acquainting you with love from Him and to Him. You know it is worship when the revelation to your soul and from your soul is deeper than you can define. When language becomes primitive and communion consists of groans and weeping. When your heart is compelled by His to rest. When laughter is possible even through the tears. When you let go of your expected end to discover His.
When more fully knowing desire for Him sweeps away human interests that only concern earth and time. When you give away your heart to be broken because any touch from Him is sweet. (You know it is impossible for Him to defile you because everything He does satisfies you with steadfast purity.) He is unlike anyone you know and you are not content to let Him go. You worship Him because you must live and He alone is life. His presence is your anchor. His heart is your hope in motion, in application, in assurance and joy. And this is the purest, most real thing you have ever experienced a the heart level.
Worship–by its very nature–takes us deeper in our hearts, in our knowledge, in our intimacy with God. Who we are as a person opens up because the love of God awakes it from its dormancy. It’s like He is the One we were made to be awake to and we have been waiting all our lives for the time when He would make that happen. This does not happen all at once–instead, it becomes the process that defines our lives. It is the underlying current that at times reveals itself to the outside world in such bodily motions as lifting ones hands, raising ones head or bowing and dancing at various times.
Yes, some people do it for show or to fit in with the crowd or even to convince themselves that more is happening on the inside than there is, but such is also the case with particular spectators at sports games, employees in a board meeting or friends at a party. I think the beauty of the thing, though, is when worship is a heart-investment that carries over into lifting ones hands not just in times of song, but in times when care is needed by someone that Jesus loves and He would like to use ones hands to do it. There is so much to worship that it cannot be studied from the outside; instead, we must immerse ourselves in it and let it teach us what loving God looks like, what being our most fully human acts like.
Worship can be crazy, but this does not make it illegitimate at all times. The matter concerned is what is going on in the heart of the worshiper. Is he/she responding to what they know of God’s heart or are they excluding Him all together and trying to feed their heart with their own acts? Worship is all about the connection between us and God–if it’s anything less, it’s not worship. Our highest objective for worship is that it may include God and us. Whether it is being carried out in others lives and hearts is not primarily our business. The most important thing is that we know we are engaged and that we constantly appeal to God to increase our ability to engage with Him. That’s worship: It’s as close as your own heart.