“Worship at church wasn’t that great today.”
“I really didn’t feel anything during the worship time.”
Sadly, these phrases are uttered week in and week out across the fabric of most Western church cultures. The problem isn’t the choice of music or the way in which a worship service is carried out; the real problem is our lack of understanding what real worship consists of.
My goal here is not to exhaust the term “worship” and its many facets, but rather to examine the role of worship as it pertains to personal discipleship. People enter church with the false perception that worship is about their experience rather than their obedience. We obey by responding to who God is through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, but we tend to make the mistake of viewing our worship through the lens of our corporate experience rather than as an extension of our personal time with God.
Worship at its core is a way of life. That way of life is expressed by King David in Psalm 63:1 – “O God, you are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you.” Here we get a glimpse of a man who intimately knew God. David wasn’t sitting in the temple when he wrote those words. He wasn’t in some religious ceremony with hundreds of other people. Instead, he was in the wilderness of Judah.
Part of our worship means that we find ourselves alone before God with His Word in hand. It’s the Word of God that should inform our worship, not a feeling or experience. The apostle Paul writes, “[We] ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
Paul shows us that it’s necessary to understand God through growth in knowledge. This is a key component to discipleship and worship. Also notice that as we grow in knowledge and understanding we begin to walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord. Paul further exhorts, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV). So, true worship comes from a true knowledge of who God is according to His Word. And that knowledge allows us to offer up our lives to reflect the glory of God.
Corporate worship is certainly essential to our discipleship, but we must be careful not to ascribe to it more than God’s Word authorizes. We should not allow the culture or current trends to define proper responses to worship, but rather the Word of God. And we must also be careful not to allow worship to become merely intellectual. Like David, we must earnestly seek him and love him. That is the true heart of worship.
Article written by Corey Franklin. Featured in S.R. Discipleship Issue