by Art Kohl
Churchgoers often hear these newer terms: Contemporary Worship, Traditional Worship, Worship leaders, Worship bands, Worship teams, Worship Director, Worship choruses, Worship songs, Worship services, etc. Where is any of this in the Bible?
Since the mid 1980s when the “Worship and Praise” phenomenon and the “seeker-friendly mega-church” mentality took over the body of Christ, the number of evangelical or fundamental missionaries who have left the shores of America to preach the gospel to the regions beyond has decreased from 57,000 to 41,000. During that same time (1985-2005) the world’s population has increased by 1 billion people. By one swift slight of Satan, the church has substituted “Worship and Praise” for “Evangelism and Discipleship”. We have kept the troops entertained at the church house while the world is lost and heading toward hell without warning. We have succumbed to one of the devil’s oldest tricks: replace the best with something good.
The woman at the well (read John 4:1-29) thought she was an expert on worship. It turns out she didn’t know much. Jesus said to her, “Ye worship ye know not what…” (v.22a)
Her biggest mistake was thinking worship was done in a particular place (v.20). Jesus told her that true worshippers worship God anywhere, not in this mountain or that mountain, not in this church or that church.
Fact: Worship is not a meeting.
There is not one mention of a “worship meeting” in the entire New Testament. Yet churches today advertise worship services and styles. When we regulate worship to church it becomes construed as something we turn on when entering the building and turn off when we leave. The devil, who has always coveted the worship of man, is more than happy if we create an atmosphere where God only gets one hour of worship per week.
The church is a place for preaching, teaching, fellowshipping, praying, caring for others, serving others, serving in ministries, and charging our spiritual batteries so we can go back into the world and preach Christ. It is not for worship.
Worship is mostly an individual thing done outside the church. Read through the examples in the gospel of Matthew: 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 18:26; 28:9. None of this was done in church!
The Greek word mostly translated “worship” in the New Testament is “proskuneo.” “Pros” means to prostrate. “Kuneo” means to kiss.
Strong’s Concordance of Greek Words defines it this way, “to kiss, as a dog licking his master’s hand; To fawn or crouch down; To prostrate oneself in homage; To do reverence.”
The best synonym for “worship” is “adoration” – to admire or adore.
It is very rare you see any of this in a church setting! When we are around others we become inhibited and self-conscious. Worship is done better in private, thus we have several private examples recorded in the scriptures and no public ones.
Now here’s a shocker: Fact: Worship is not music.
Not once in the 79 references to worship in the New Testament is it associated with music!
Of the 155 references to worship in the Old Testament, only once (Psalm 66:4) are worship and singing used in the same breath though differentiated by the conjunction “and”.
Two hundred and thirty-four mentions of worship in the Bible and only once is it used along with music!
Why then is music a main thing in our “worship” at the church? “Ye worship ye know not what …” (John 4:22).
Worship has little to do with church and nothing to do with music! Don’t fall for the “worship and praise” spirit permeating our churches.
What is worship then?
1. Worship Is Any Action an individual takes, intended to give God pleasure.
I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Martin Luther said, “An handmaiden can milk cows to the glory of God.” When a person goes out to try to save some souls, for God’s pleasure, that person is worshipping God. Going to work to provide for your family because God has commanded you to is an act of worship.
2. Worship Is Any Admiration an individual shows, intended to give God pleasure.
Remember the dog described earlier? A dog adores it’s owner, waits for it’s owner, pleases it’s owner.
I’ve seen dogs lay their chins on their owners’ laps and just stare at their owners, waiting to please them. That is worship. (And the origin of the saying, “A dog is man’s best friend.”) Dogs adore their owners, and adoration is worship.
When was the last time you spiritually laid your chin on God’s knee, stared into His face and adored Him?
3. Worship Is Any Attitude an individual has that gives God pleasure.
A person with a bad spirit cannot worship God. If someone is bitter, angry, stubborn, rebellious – forget it!
John 4:23,24 says, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
True worshippers must worship God in spirit. This word “spirit” refers to the attitude, emotions and will.
If a believer has just been through the worst year of his or her life, but maintains a right spirit and says, “God is good all the time,” that is worship.
Colossians 3:22-24 illustrates, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” That’s an attitude of worship!
4. Worship Is Any Accuracy presented, intended to give God pleasure. We must worship God in spirit and in truth. We must be accurate.
If someone said to Babe Ruth, “I think you are the greatest hockey player of all time,” their worship would be meaningless. Why? It was inaccurate. Babe Ruth played baseball, not hockey.
If someone said to the Lord, “Jesus, I know you are just a man and not God but I really admire you,” that worship would be meaningless, for it was not accurate.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time told people to give their money to the temple and forget about helping their fathers and mothers. It was as if they were saying, “God we know what You said, but we are going to do the opposite anyway. Just accept our worship of You.” Jesus said they worshipped Him in vain (Matthew 15:1-9). Their practice was not true to the Bible, and God did not accept it.
Obedience to truth with a right spirit is a lifestyle of worship.
Don’t fall for today’s inaccurate, deeply entrenched ideas of what worship is. Change your thinking and lifestyle and begin a true lifestyle of worship, 7 days a week, “for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” (John 4:232b).
by Art Kohl
I really appreciate you tackling the subject of worship in this article! The only thing I would tend to disagree with is music not being worship. I would say that if the right kind of music that pleases God is used in praise to God and praise pleases God then that would be an act of worship. The key is finding out what kind of music pleases God. I believe the Bible teaches that psalms, hymns and spiritual songs please the Lord.