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  • Baptist Beacon

What is worship?

by Tim Iocoangeli

MONROE, MI – I don’t know how it is in your church, but in our church there are a few topics that get people talking. Sometimes these topics lead to good discussion, and at other times it can lead to frustration. I am sure each of us has been a part of these types of conversations. One of these topics that usually gets people going is worship.

I know the worship wars seem to have been taking place now, I don’t know, for 500 years or so, and there has been plenty written about it. All it takes is a quick google search and you can find hundreds of books, articles, and videos on the subject.

With so much out there I find it helpful sometimes to just get back to basics. This enables me to simplify the topic and often get rid of much of the “noise.” One of the ways I like to do this is by asking some basic questions.

Question 1- What is Worship?

If you look up the word worship in the Oxford Dictionary you will find this, “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” Now one might say that this is a good definition, but I find it comes up a bit short. The reason for this is that one can worship all sorts of things, putting these things in the place of the deity, but not actually being deity.

The fact is all people worship because we have been created to worship. One of the great truths of the Bible is that mankind is made in the image of God and therefore we are image bearers of Him. We have been made to worship Him and glorify Him, yet sadly, people too often choose to be image bearers of something other than God. Sometimes it is material things, sometimes it is other people, but mostly we tend to be worshippers of ourselves.

Even Adam and Eve fell for this great lie choosing to worship themselves instead of the One to whom they were created to worship. Ever since that fateful day, mankind has struggled with worship.

There is another definition of worship that I like much better. It is found in the Westminster Dictionary of Theological terms, and it says worship is, “The service of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition directed toward God through actions and attitudes. Christian’s worship is Trinitarian in form as praise is offered to God through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There is a ton to unpack in that definition, but I only want to focus on the one aspect of who we are to worship. That leads to my next basic question.

Question 2- Who is the object of Worship?

According to this Westminster definition we are to worship God through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, if we are to be worshiping God then who is God? Why is He worthy of our worship?

There are many ways to approach this question and try to answer it well, but I want to do it by focusing on one particular attribute of God; is His holiness. When we as believers approach God in worship it is good for us to remember that He is Holy, and we are not. In fact, the only reason we are allowed to approach Him is because of the blood of Jesus that has cleansed us from our sin.

Every time in the Bible that God would reveal His glory or His holiness to someone they simply fell to the ground and acknowledged their unworthiness to be there. Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips.” John fell over as dead!

When we approach God in worship, whether in our personal time, or as we gather as a church let us remember who it is we worship. We worship the only one who is Holy. The only one who has made a way for us sinners to be in His presence through the work of His Son. Remembering this will cause us to approach worship with reverence and awe of Him. It will allow us to make sure our focus is on the One we worship and how He has called us to worship Him instead of arguing about it.



Tim Iocoangeli is Lead Pastor at Monroe Missionary Baptist Church which is in the Southeastern Association. He is married to Amanda and together they have 4 children.


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