What is Worship, Really?

worship-1Image by Josa Jr. Ceatice Commons.

Worship has been associated with ancient rituals performed by ordained priests, and ecstatic singing, praying, and utterances to be enjoyed by anyone in the congregation. It the minds of most people it is confined to a time (10:30AM) and a place (your local church.) But what is it, really?

The word “worship” means to ascribe worth to an object. In the New Testament, the most frequently used word for worship is translated worship or to bow down. Literally, it means “to kiss toward.” The idea is to show respect or reverence with the act of bowing. It is a visible act of love flowing from a heart of gratitude.

Another word means to revere or adore. Yet another important word means service. It is the word from which our word “liturgy” is derived.

What can learn from our brief look at these Greek words for worship? Worship is a two-sided coin. There is a spiritual/emotional aspect of awe and reverence to worship. But there is also a physical, action-oriented characteristic.

Which one has received the majority of the attention for two thousand years? That’s easy, emotional, “spiritual” side. Not only that, but it has been relegated to a Sunday morning church service.

There are two very key passages that further explain worship.

A Samaritan woman that Jesus met at community well was having a discussion with him about where was the best place to worship God, since the Samaritans and the Jews had different traditions. In John 4:24, Jesus indicated that true worship is in spirit and truth. The word for spirit literally means wind. We use this word to describe tools that run off of an air compressor as pneumatic. In this context, it may refer to the Holy Spirit or be a reference to our own spiritual nature. Most believe it is the latter.

So, we worship God with our spiritual nature he has given us (in spirit) and in accordance with the way things are (in truth.) There is a mystical side to worshipping God, after all He is spirit and we have a spiritual nature.

But we worship him a context of reality. We worship him the way he really is, rather than invent a god of our making. We worship in the real world, the way it really is, rather than a fantasy world. We worship him in the context of our life, the way we really are, rather than pretending to be something we are not.

The next text answers the question, “What does God require of us?” It’s a really good question, because throughout all of human history, people have been doing all manner of things in the name of God, including whipping themselves, offering animal and even, human sacrifices, depriving themselves, and even blowing themselves (and several “infidels”) to smithereens.

So, just what does he want?

I will focus on that next week.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply