Let’s start out with a question:
What is worship?
If you’re like me, for years I thought of worship as “singing praise to God”. In fact, I went into college with this same mindset. The funny part about this is that I went to college to study “worship” without really knowing what it was. I knew I loved singing in church on Sundays and leading people in worship, but that was essentially the extent of my knowledge of the topic. Once I realized the true meaning of worship, specifically unceasing worship, it changed my life forever. So let’s dive into the meaning of worship, shall we?
First, we’ll start with a simple dictionary definition of worship: devotion, or the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration toward something or someone. There’s something interesting about this definition—it says nothing about God or any god for that matter. It also says nothing about singing. *Cue mind explosion.* So now that we have this information, let’s rework our definition of what worship is today, because there are so many more forms of worship than just singing at church on a Sunday.
Whether we are Christians or not, all people everywhere worship something all the time. We were created to worship. Everybody inhabiting the earth is bowing down and serving something or someone. People worship their image, their status, appearance, their jobs, their spouse, their kids, their cellphone, social media—all of these have become false gods. In Exodus 20 you’ll find that the very first commandment given to Moses is, “You shall have no other gods before me”.
Well, snap. Oftentimes, we don’t feel like this commandment applies to us because we are not surrounded by other religions with multiple deities like people were in the time of Moses. Think back to that time—the Israelites saw so many false gods that the Egyptians worshiped that I’m sure they had a very clear idea of what God was talking about when He said not to worship other gods. But the problem is that image, our families and social media have become a form of modern day idolatry. I have to confess that these false gods are really hard for me, too.
So that’s our worldly, secular form of worship that we all struggle with. But the amazing thing about God and the “spiritual world,” if you will, is that there are battles going on our behalf and praises being sung and worship happening across the universe that we cannot see and cannot hear. Did you know that even nature worships the Lord and declares His glory? Psalm 96:11-12 says, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exalt, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” A verse that may be more familiar to you is in Luke 19, where many of Jesus’ disciples were praising Him, and the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke them. Jesus said, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” There are many more verses about nature praising God, but those two are a couple of my favorites.
Alright, so here’s my second question for you: How can nature praise God?
I wholeheartedly believe that the trees, wind and water could all be praising God and that we just can’t hear it, but really this verse goes much, much deeper than that. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. The meaning of the word “fearfully” means nobility (a holy fear of nobility). We were made by God who is King, and we are His children. To say that we are wonderfully made means we are made by God. Every hair on our head, every bone in our body, every ligament and muscle, every cell that holds our skin together declares that we were made by a divine creator. Nature worships God by declaring that God is good, He is a divine creator, and even rocks and trees are worshiping the Lord just by their mere existence and doing what they were created to do, just like us.
Last questions: What is unceasing worship? How does this look in our lives?
There are two parts to this. On a spiritual level, every single movement that we make declares that God is good, God is real, and we were made by a divine creator. On an earthly level, we already discussed that we were made to worship, and that we are sinners who constantly worship false gods. As believers, we combat this by dedicating our lives to learning more about Him, being constantly in a conversation of prayer with God, and serving Him as our Lord and Savior. That’s what unceasing worship looks like as believers and followers of Christ.
Everything you do is worship if it’s dedicated to God. Any talent you have, your job, the way you run and manage your families—it’s all worship, because you are doing what you were created to do. If you like checklists (like me), there’s one that you’ll find in the Bible that you can find if you need to check yourself and see if your worship is being done well. Let’s look back at our dictionary definition of worship: devotion, or the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration. Another word for adoration is love. You can find your checklist in the “love chapter” of the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13.
Is your worship patient? Kind? Humble? Does it dishonor others or is it self-seeking? Is it easily angered or keep a record of wrongs? Does your worship delight in evil or rejoice in the truth? Does it protect, trust, hope and persevere? Does your worship for the Lord ever fail? Perhaps rephrasing these words may help to determine whether our daily worship is being done well:
Do you constantly extend patience to your husband, your kids or your co-workers? What about strangers? Are you kind to people? Are you humble in your job? What about in the way you pray publicly? Are your prayers long and flowery, or are they simple and direct? Do you like to draw attention to yourself for human approval, or do you strive solely for God’s approval? Do you make fun of people or gossip? Do you anger easily? Are you forgiving, or do you hold onto grudges? Are you protective and loyal to your friends, family, or those who can’t defend themselves? Do you worship false gods, such as image, status or social media? Are you positive and encouraging, or do you tend to be a dark cloud in distressing situations? Do you love the Lord with everything in you, put Him first and seek to make Him known in your life?
Reworking my definition of worship changed me in so many ways. I became more patient with people. I became more authentic and wasn’t as afraid of being myself. By knowing that worship went beyond singing, and especially beyond singing on Sundays, I felt more contented to God on a daily basis. My prayer is that this is the same result for you as well. So let’s go about our day worshiping the Lord in everything we do, together.
Written by Charissa Wines