Very few things have polarized the Body of Christ more in recent years than has the attitudes and styles of worship. They stretch all the way from the majestic sounds of pipe organs and choirs to bands with all the paraphernalia of flashing lights, keyboards, and drums. But what is true worship – and where can worship be done?
In Psalms 42 and 43, the Psalmist reflected the attitude of many Jews who looked to Mount Zion as the only place where God dwelt. (43:3) But did He only dwell there?
Early in scripture Moses set the atmosphere for worship when he said, “Is God not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” (Deut. 32:6). Moses was saying, “God is bigger than your box. He cannot be confined to a single location.” In his prayer at the dedication of the Temple King Solomon added to this same idea when he prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below… But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (I Kings 8)
God, through the prophet Isaiah, spoke again. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things.” (Isaiah 66)
God cannot be contained. He is everywhere. Mount Zion itself was not the place where God “lived” in any local sense - it was a place where God could be worshipped. The holy mountain was a place of prayer, a sacred site, where worshipers could lift hands and voices and glorify the God of heaven.
In Psalm 42 and 43 the Psalmist’s thirst for God did not lead him to a geographical location. It led him to God himself. Today the risk in worship is to take our attention away from “God himself” and put it on other things. Sherwood Writ, former editor of the Billy Graham Association Decision Magazine, said, “An enormous amount of humbug has been written about worship, much of it by religious-minded people who insist that we ought to do it in a way they do it.” All true worship must ultimately lead people to God himself.
When Jesus came into the world the process of worship changed. He came as “Immanuel” – “God with us.” (Matt.1:22-23). Following Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, God made himself even more accessible. Each person who trusted in Jesus would become the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit. Every moment could now be a worship moment.
The origin of the word worship means “worth-ship.” It has to do with God’s worthiness. His majesty. His power. His love. It’s the business of giving God what is due him. Let us be careful not to so much tinker with the modes of worship that we miss the end of worship - which is the adoration of God himself.
“To be used by God. Is there anything more encouraging, more fulfilling? Perhaps not, but there is something more basic: to meet with God. To linger in His presence, to shut out the noise of the city and, in quietness, give Him the praise He deserves.” (Charles Swindoll)
Be blessed my friend
The Barnabas Group. (Loads of Love)
Hebrews 10:19-25; Psalm 42; 43; 68:3; 96:4; Revelation 7:9-12; Romans 12:1-2