November 17, 2023, 4:40 PM


The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Worship is the most important activity of life. The Creator made us for worship. A practical Christian definition of worship is to love, honor, and obey God. Worship is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, in part, as “reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.” The source of the word is an Old English compound word, worth ship. It described the devotion and obedience that a knight offered to his sovereign. In kneeling down before the king, the knight would bow his head, offering the back of his neck to the king’s sword. In so doing the knight was visibly displaying to the king that his life would be forfeit if he failed to serve the king.

Worship is fundamentally about our primary relationship. It is about our relationship to God. God made us to worship Him. But because of sin, we naturally seek to make our own gods to worship. The great reformer John Calvin said, “Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols” (Commentary on Acts, vol. 2, p 413).

Therefore, in view of man’s sinfulness, God by His grace declared that He alone was to be worshiped (Exodus 20:1-3). God said that His people were forbidden from bowing down to or serving any man-made image or likeness of God (Exodus 20:4-5). He declared that He is the LORD and besides Him there is no God (Isaiah 45:18). Further, any worship that is not based in God’s word is false and is idolatry (John 4:23-24).

The only object of true worship is the God who has revealed Himself in His word written and Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ. To make things even more direct, Jesus said that God the Father is the one who seeks worshipers (John 4). Even though we have been made to worship God, we substitute our own gods in place of the One True God.

The Apostle Paul quoted the Psalms and wrote that no one seeks after God (Psalm 14:2; Romans 3:11). Even though God has made His existence plain for all to see by what He has made, men suppress the truth in unrighteousness. We are eager to fulfill our God-given desire to worship and often do so by erecting idols. Our idols are the things that control our lives.

Normally in Evangelical Protestant Churches, we don’t see people bowing down or serving carved images as part of their acts of worship and devotion. But we must honestly reflect upon those things that we seem to value the most and serve. In other words, we are loving, honoring, and obeying things more than God! The evangelical church in our day is often more interested in being culturally relevant than being holy.

Leviticus 11:44 is God’s command to His people, those whom He has called out called, the church. The visible church is to be holy because He is holy. Leviticus 18:1-5 is God’s command to His people not to be like the pagan culture from which He delivered them and the culture of those living in the land to which He was sending them! When the church designs worship for people, she is violating God’s caution given to His people of old. Designing worship for people demonstrates that the church loves the world more than she loves God.

However, when God is truly worshiped, the Lordship of Christ is acknowledged by our submitting to His word. Love, honor, and obey are relational words that describe our primary relationship. In the primary relationship to God, He is the one who establishes the requirements for our relationship. Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

We know that worship is not only a weekly event. Worship is what we do every moment, every day of our lives. In applying the words of Jesus quoted above, God through the Apostle Paul, made the daily reality of worship clear to those who have experienced His saving grace. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Nevertheless, a fundamental principle of worship is that God alone is the object of our worship. Worship is for Him!