All of Life

The root of Christian living and the root of congregational praise are the same, which is why for Paul worship simply cannot be merely or even mainly thought of in terms of Sunday services but of all of life. His is an absolutely God-saturated vision of Christian existence. When our whole life is consumed with pursuing satisfaction in God, everything we do highlights the value and worth of God, which simply means that everything becomes worship.

—John Piper, Let The Nations Be Glad, 3rd edition; Chapter 7 “The Inner Simplicity and Outer Freedom of Worldwide Worship,” 254

On Sunday

The earliest documents mention that Christians meet statu die—on a fixed day—and nothing in the long history of Christianity could alter the importance of this fixed day.

If Christianity were a purely “spiritual” and eschatological faith there would have been no need for a “fixed day,” because mysticism has no interest in time. To save one’s soul one needs, indeed, no “calendar.” And if Christianity were but a new “religion,” it would have established its calendar, with the usual opposition between the “holy days” and the “profane days”—those to be “kept” and “observed” and those religiously insignificant. Both understandings did in fact appear later. But this was not at all the original meaning of the “fixed day.” It was not meant to be a “holy day” opposed to profane ones, a commemoration in time of a past event. Its true meaning was in the transformation of time, not of calendar.  For, on the one hand, Sunday remained one of the days (for more than three centuries it was not even a day of rest), the first of the week, fully belonging to this world.  Yet on the other hand, on that day, through the eucharistic ascension, the Day of the Lord was revealed and manifested in all its glory and transforming power as the end of this world, as the beginning of the world to come. And thus through that one day all days, all time were transformed into times of remembrance and expectation, remembrance of the ascension, (“we have seen the true light”) and expectation of its coming. All days, all hours were now referred to this end of all “natural” life, to the beginning of the new life. The week was no longer a sequence of “profane” days, with rest on the “sacred” day at their end. . . . Sunday . . . was not a “sacred” day to be “observed” apart from all other days and opposed to them. It did not interrupt time with a “timeless” mystical ecstasy. It was not a “break” in an otherwise meaningless sequence of days and nights. By remaining one of the ordinary days, and yet by revealing itself through the Eucharist as the eighth and first day, it gave all days their true meaning. It made the time of this world a time of the end, and it made it also the time of the beginning.

—Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 51-52

Towards and Out of Worship

Worship is central to all that we do. And for that reason, our whole life is both a procession toward worship and a procession out of worship. Life is a cycle of constant return to the source of our new life and to the empowerment for life that we receive from the Christ we meet and celebrate in worship.

—Robert E. Webber, Robert, Worship is a Verb: Eight Principles for Transforming Worship, 213

Fuel and Fire

The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God; the fire that makes the fuel burn white-hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit; the furnace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is our renewed spirit; and resulting heat of our affections is powerful worship, pushing its way out in confessions, longings, acclamations, tears, songs, shouts, bowed heads, lifted hands and obedient lives.

—John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 82

REFORMATION 500: Adoration and Action

One of the most significant accomplishments of the Protestant Reformation was overcoming the monastic understanding of the relations between the life of contemplation (vita contemplativa) and life of action (vita activa). Almost five centuries later, some important segments of Protestant Christianity (especially of the evangelical brand) are still caught in the false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular and are operating with a pre-reformation understanding of the relation between (what they term) spiritual worship and secular work. In the context of the reflection on the Christian understanding of worship, it is important therefore to recall Luther’s rediscovery of the Christian calling to active service of God in the world and to reflect on its biblical roots . . .

Christian worship consists both in obedient service to God and in the joyful praise of God. Both of these elements are brought together in Hebrews 13:15-16, a passage that comes close to giving a definition of Christian worship: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise˜the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is please.” The sacrifice of praise and the sacrifice of good works are two fundamental aspects of the Christian way of being-in-the-world. They are at the same time the two constitutive elements of Christian worship: authentic Christian worship takes place in a rhythm of adoration and action.

—Miroslav Volf, “Reflections on a Christian Way of Being-in-the-World” in Worship: Adoration and Action, 203, 207

Worship and Work

Worship is not some escape from “the work week.” To the contrary, our worship rituals train our hearts and aim our desires toward God and his kingdom so that, when we are sent from worship to take up our work, we do so with a habituated orientation toward the Lover of our souls.

—James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, 187

True Worship

Significantly, in the call to true worship in Romans 12, Paul calls believers to reverse the false worship described in Romans 1. Instead of worshipping ‘created things rather than the Creator’ (Rom. 1:25), Paul calls us to be involved in ‘spiritual worship’ (12:1). Instead of degrading our ‘bodies’ (1:24), we are called to offer our ‘bodies’ to God (12:1). Instead of ‘sexual impurity’ (1:24), we are called to offer the sacrifice that is ‘holy’ (12:1). Once given over to a ‘depraved mind’ (1:28), the ‘mind’ will now be renewed (12:2). Once being ‘filled with every kind of wickedness’ (1:29), we are called not to ‘conform any longer to the pattern of this world’ (12:2). If Romans 1 describes the ingratitude (cf. 1:21) that characterizes those who refuse to worship Him, Romans 12 calls us to offer all of ourselves ‘as living sacrifices’ (12:1) to Him who deserves all praise and thanksgiving.

—David W. Pao, Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme, 102

Theology for Life

Although very few Christians are called to be academic theologians, all Christians are called to think theologically. My conviction is that theology is relevant to Christian living. Theology that does not have some cash value for a life of obedient worship is, at best, of secondary interest.

—Robin Parry, Worshiping Trinity, 8

Heart Worship 11

Music and liturgy can assist or express a worshiping heart, but they cannot make a non-worshiping heart into a worshiping one. The danger is that they can give a nonworshiping
heart the sense of having worshiped.

So the crucial factor in worship in the church is not the form of worship, but the state of the hearts of the saints. If our corporate worship isn’t the expression of our individual
worshiping lives, it is unacceptable.

—John MacArthur, The Ultimate Priority, 104

Defining Worship 40

For the reformed, worship is a lifestyle of humble service that culminates corporately at least once a week, where God’s chosen people join with the heavenly chorus to praise Him for His vast attributes, confess our inabilities, affirm His grace, yield to His instruction, celebrate His mercies and respond to His covenantal call.

—Bryan Chappell, “Worship as Gospel Representation”

Defining Worship 35

We may distinguish three uses of the word “worship”: (i) to denote a particular element of what is generally referred to as worship, namely, adoration; (ii) to denote generally the public worship of the religious community gathered together and also the private religious exercises of the family and the individual; and (iii), in a still wider sense, to denote the whole life of the community or of the individual viewed as service of God.

—C.E.B. Cranfield, “Divine and Human Action: The Biblical Concept of Worship,” Interpretation 12:4 (October, 1958), 387

Defining Worship 25

The simplest definition I can give is this: Worship is our response to what we value most.

That’s why worship is that thing we all do. It’s what we’re all about on any given day. Worship is about saying, ‘This person, this thing, this experience (this whatever) is what matters most to me . . . it’s the thing of highest value in my life.’

That ‘thing’ might be a relationship. A dream. A position. Status. Something you own. A name. A job. Some kind of pleasure. Whatever name you put on it, this ‘thing’ is what you’ve concluded in your heart is worth most to you. And whatever is worth most to you is—you guessed it—what you worship.

Worship, in essence, is declaring what we value most. As a result, worship fuels our actions, becoming the driving force of all we do.

And we’re not just talking about the religious crowd. The Christian. The churchgoer among us. We’re talking about everybody on planet earth. A multitude of souls proclaiming with every breath what is worthy of their affection, their attention, their allegiance. Proclaiming with every step what it is they worship.

Some of us attend the church on the corner, professing to worship the living God above all. Others, who rarely darken the church doors, would say worship isn’t a part of their lives because they aren’t ‘religious.’ But everybody has an altar. And every altar has a throne.

So how do you know where and what you worship?

It’s easy: You simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your allegiance. At the end of that trail you’ll find a throne, and whatever, or whoever, is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you. On that throne is what you worship.

Sure, not too many of us walk around saying; “I worship my stuff. I worship my job. I worship this pleasure. I worship her. I worship my body. I worship me!”

But the trail never lies. We may say we value this thing or that thing more than any other, but the volume of our actions speaks louder than our words.

—Lou Giglio, The Air I Breath: Worship as a Way of Life, 12-13

 

Defining Worship 14

Worship.
It’s a lifestyle.
It’s how we live each moment of every day—captivated by the awareness of God’s presence.
It’s making choices to bring Him pleasure and honor.
It’s refusing to allow the struggles in life to consume us, but rather to seek contentment in every situation.
It’s kneeling before a holy God to praise Him,
For it is only there that we forget ourselves and find rest in His loving arms.

—Deborah Lee Lucero