I love to worship through music. It’s one of my pathways to God … which is why I get frustrated when churches reduce worship to just 15-20 minutes of music at the start of a service. Worship is more than 20 minutes of music! Can I get an amen?
I mean, when I first started going to church during high school, I learned about praise and worship – “praise” was the fast songs we sang in church and “worship” was the slow, reflective songs. But as I grew in my faith, I learned that praise and worship were less about our actions during an hour at church, and more about our actions during the other 167 hours of the week.
You see, the ancient Jews needed seven words to adequately define this idea of “praise”. When you put them all together, these seven words defined praise as being a life that is marked by faith in action. When you seek God, serve those in need, welcome all people and acknowledge God as the source for all the blessings in your life – that is actual definition of praise!
And “worship” is about action too. One of my favorite biblical scholars, Abraham Heschel, once said; “If God were a theory, the study of theology would be the way to understand Him. But God is alive and in need of love and worship”. He went on to say; “Our task is to bring God back into the world, into our lives. To worship is to expand the presence of God in the world”. Heschel’s point was that God does not place emphasis on knowledge, but on worship. And one way we worship Him is through acts of compassion, mercy and gratitude so people experience His presence. We follow a living God, so we worship Him AND experience Him in the way we live.
Imagine if worship was more than a genre of music. Imagine if Christians worshipped God by expanding His presence in the world by the way they lived and acted. Imagine if every time you spoke truth, were compassionate to another person or encouraged someone, you understood that you were praising God.
What a world that would be, huh?!