This is #24 in the Crossing the Threshold series.
What is worship? Whom do we worship? Why do we worship? These are extremely important questions; the answers to which have eternal as well as temporal consequences. Human beings first and foremost were created to worship. Not only was it part of our original design; it was and is our primary vocation, calling, lifework. Therefore it is not a question of choice as if you can choose to worship or choose not to worship. If you are human it is inherent in you to worship. The only question is to what or to whom do you give your worship.
“Worship means literally, acknowledging the worth of something or someone. It means recognizing and saying that something or someone is worthy of praise. It means celebrating the worth of someone or something far superior to oneself”. A key phrase in this definition by N.T. Wright is “far superior to oneself”. Worship is a response to a revelation of the wholly other; to the one far superior in power, being and reality.
One of the great tragedies of the Postmodern World is that we have a diminished God. The secular realm has done more than diminish God they have dismissed him as entirely irrelevant. The sacred realm does not dismiss him as much as they reduce him, bring him down to a manageable size, and create him in their own image. Simon Chan writes about this diminished god “he is nice, accommodating, friendly, and always expected to meet my needs; solve my problems.” A diminished God results in diminished worship. Diminished worship results in diminished human beings. Diminished human beings are the tragic lives we meet everyday.
What is worship? Worship is a response; it does not begin with us nor do we initiate it. Worship is a response to the revelation of the wholly other. It is therefore our answer, our reaction, our acknowledgement to that revelation. We see this in two of the Bibles best known and clearest passages on expressions of worship: The prophet Isaiah had a revelation of the Lord sitting on his throne, lofty and exalted, and his response was to cry “Woe is me for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips”, the Apostle John on the island of Patmos received a revelation of the glorified Christ and responded by falling to his feet like a dead man. Ruined, dead, falling to their feet, these are the responses of one who worships, of one who acknowledges and recognizes the worth of one far superior.