When I ask the question, "What is worship?" what is the first thing that pops in your mind? I know that for me, the first mental picture I get is of myself sitting in a church pew, singing and/or listening to a preacher. I would suspect that it's the same way for most others. Am I correct?
But what is worship, really? Merriam-Webster says it is "an act of expressing reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power" or, my favorite, "extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem." I LOVE that second one, of course, my object of esteem being my God. That changes things a little bit. I would certainly hope that I express that reverence, extravagant respect, and admiration to my God, and that I act upon my devotion to Him, every moment of my life. Not just on Sundays. In fact, in discussing worship, Romans 12:1 has become one of my favorite verses of all the Bible...and that says alot, considering how difficult it is for me to pinpoint certain "favorites"; there are so many that I love. But I can honestly say that verse is one of my favorites. It reads, "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." There's A LOT that I don't know, but that's one concept that, although seemingly missed by so many in my fellowship of Christians, I do believe that I understand. Never in the Bible is worship spoken of as only five particular things that are done when we're all together in a particular building.
So why is it that we remain so focused on the corporate worship assembly??? In my church, our elders have set out to hire a worship minister, because they feel that there are certain parts of our corporate worship that need improvement and consistency. Some people in our church have questions about this; some are for it; some are against it; some may be indifferent. But it's definitely something that seems to have everyone's attention. Why is that? Why so much focus on the little bit of time we spend in corporate worship???
I'm not sure I have the answer for that. In fact, I'll admit that I'm one who puts alot of emphasis on the corporate assembly. More and more, I find myself anticipating Sundays and Wednesdays, longing for those two days to come quickly. I find myself recognizing the need in our church for a worship minister. I find myself surfing our church website on Wednesdays or Thursdays, looking to see if the new bulletin or "order of worship" for the coming Sunday is posted yet. I especially find myself awaiting our corporate assembly this Sunday, when we will have one, Jerome Williams, leading us into the throne room of God. I eagerly anticipate this Sunday, and, having already seen the order of worship for it, I know that we will be blessed by it.
But wait a minute...remember our definition of worship? It's about expressing to Him our extravagant respect and admiration; it's not about us. Or is it? Interesting that Paul follows up Romans 12:1 with the rest of Romans 12. What does the rest of Romans 12 say? In a nutshell, it says four things:
1. Be transformed by the renewing of your minds (have the right attitude).
2. Act together, as differing parts of the same Body.
3. Love one another sincerely.
4. Be good to one another.
Is there a pattern here, or is it just me? The verses that follow up our instruction about our spiritual act of worship have to do with how we treat each other. Could it possibly be that God is most extravagantly praised when we treat others, who are made in His image, with kindness? Or when we, in an effort to reflect His glory, show His love to one another as brothers and sisters in Him? Perhaps worship is more about us than I originally thought.
Perhaps that's why I anticipate our corporate worship so much. At first, being away from home at college, and now, especially, being away from my family and being single, I believe I've learned what it is to have a Christian family made up of people who are TRULY my brothers and sisters, and I don't take that lightly. I know what it is to desire to fellowship "with glad and sincere hearts....praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people."
Perhaps we don't have enough emphasis on our time spent together.
Perhaps that's why there's so much focus on the little bit of time spent together in corporate worship.
Because there's so little of it?