The Backbone of Worship
By Stephen M. Newman
What is the key to serving God? Is it taking the good things He has to offer, the things that we are comfortable with, and leaving the rest behind? Is it a spiritual Golden Corral? What is the key to true worship? Is it taking the elements (singing, clapping, dancing, etc.) that we like and leaving the rest for someone else?
The Bible is very clear on how we are to worship. We don’t worship correctly for lack of instruction in the Bible. It tells us to sing to the Lord a new song, to bow down and worship Him, and to raise our hands to the Lord. As with all things in the Bible, we have clear direction on what we are to do. We cannot do what we want and call it worship. We cannot pick and choose which commandments we will follow. Why do we discipline our children? Hopefully, so that they’ll grow up to be good citizens who follow the law, and have respect for others and for themselves. We desire them to be like us as we try to model good moral behavior in front of them. If we are Christians, then we desire them to be like Christ.
In our attempts to grow as worshipers, we need to remember that there is a formula for growth. I don’t believe God says, “Worship how you want and I will accept it because you have good intentions. There are several instances in the Bible where people tried to do that, and what happened to them? They died. What does this tell us? The key to knowing God better, the key to loving Him more, and the key to worshiping Him in a manner that pleases Him all revolve around obedience. If we break a commandment, we have been disobedient to Him. If we fail to do what He has called us to do we live in disobedience, and if we reject His Son we spend an eternity separated from Him. How does this relate to worship? If we fail to get on our knees before the Lord, we never will truly understand humility and servanthood. We use the excuse that it may offend someone if we were to do it in our church, and yet we fail to see that God may be offended because we don’t. If we truly believe that worship is about Him and not us, why does it matter what someone else may think?
I hear excuses all the time about why people won’t sing, raise their hands, or bow down in worship. The answers are always shrouded in pride and timidity. They don’t use those words, of course, and the answers are always phrased to reflect sensitivities to others in the service, but that’s what it is. A kind of Christian political-correctness, if you will. I am not saying that everyone has to jump up and down at every service in order to be a true worshiper. What I am saying is that if God moves you to dance, you better dance. If God moves you to raise your hands, you need to do it. It’s all about being obedient to Him. We allow our children to be who they are, don’t we? We try to teach each of them how to live in our society following the rules of our country and state. Even though they are all different in personality and make-up, we still expect them to obey certain rules and guidelines in our homes. We don’t say, “Johnny doesn’t like to clean up his room so we won’t make him do it. He may be a sloppy young boy who is very lazy, but we don’t say, “It’s okay, Johnny, you don’t have to clean up your room. We say, “Get in there and get it done. Why? Because we are trying to teach him a bigger lesson of discipline, order, and personal responsibility. The task is only the means to the learning of an even bigger, more important, lesson.
The same holds true in our worship. Christians who do not comply with the components of worship (raising hands, singing, dancing, bowing down, praying, communion, etc.,) will never be all that God has called them to be. Period. End of story. They will never experience true worship in their lives and never become true worshipers. It’s not about the actions, but the sacrifices of the heart to give no matter what. What do we gain from doing these things for the Lord? We learn obedience, servanthood, and humility. These were some of Jesus’ greatest attributes that He taught while living here on earth. He was the greatest example of being all that being humble can signify. It is pretty clear that, in the flesh, He would have got out of dying for our sins if He could have. Instead, He chose to be obedient to His Father. What was the outcome of His obedience? Salvation for you and me. A pretty awesome outcome for being obedient, don’t you think?
This article The Backbone of Worship by Stephen M. Newman is excerpted from Worship and Arts Newsletter, Oct. 2008.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.