What Exactly Is Christian Worship?
In Search of a Biblical, Theological, and Practical Definition for the Practice of Worship
What Exactly Is Christian Worship? © 2006 by Bradley Robert Berglund. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address:
c/o First Baptist Church,
401 Bridge Street North,
Cannon Falls, MN 55009
Part 3 of 8
(For earlier chapters, click on my name next to my picture above)
The Wholehearted Glorification of God
Worship recognizes the infinite dignity of God and then responds to that position in total dedication. God is the creator of everything. In Psalm 8 and Psalm 19 David looks to the night skies and stands in awe of the God who formed those twinkling lights. The heavens were declaring the glory of God even though His divine glory was established beyond what man could see. In the midst of this display, David asked about the dignity of man as it related to the infinite dignity of God. The one who worships cries out, “I am nothing; God is everything.”
Worship must embrace the attitude of humility. In a day when man believes that his greatest need is self-esteem, true worship spins him around and points to the God who deserves infinite esteem (Isaiah 42:8). Genuine humility is not the art of putting one’s self down; it is the practice of putting God in His proper place. Critical to right worship is recognizing that God does not share His glory with anyone. This is consistent with the first and greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Worship has no place for human pride. Every time pride rears its head in the midst of worshiping God, it repeats the events that brought sin into God’s creation. The first identified “worship leader” (Lucifer) fell from his heavenly position, not because of an action or even a statement but because of an attitude that was spoken in his heart (Isaiah 14:13; Ezekiel 28:15). He apparently thought the whole-being worship focused upon one infinite God was unreasonable. It should be shared with the worship leader; he, too, should reap benefit from the practice. The person who says, “I did not get what I expected out of that worship service,” has fallen into the same satanic trap. Worship, if it is genuine, is all about God and never about me.
In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus revealed that giving, praying, and fasting could be embezzled to promote the religious pride of men. The public activity of the Pharisees was designed to receive applause from others, and when they received that applause Jesus said that they got the reward they wanted and nothing more. A debate exists today as to whether or not applause is appropriate after someone has performed a musical special. Those who defend the practice will insist that the applause is not directed to the performer but to God. While good people may disagree at this point, one fact is without dispute; there is no defense for a performer to acknowledge such applause. By bowing, saying “Thank you,” or gesturing any form of appreciation to the audience without directing praise rightfully to God alone, the singer has replaced God as the object of worship. Jesus says, “They have their reward.”
I heard one man say that when Lucifer was cast out of heaven, he ended up in the church choir. There is truth behind this statement because pride seeks a place for righteous expression within the church. If the choir is a collection of vain soloists each looking for an opportunity for self-promotion, war will ensue (Philippians 2:3-4, 14-15). Still, such sword-play is not limited to the choir. Any “humble servant” who complains about a lack of appreciation from others is not a servant of Jesus Christ. They are serving their own lust to be glorified for their “sacrifices.” To them, doing something good with a Luciferian spirit is far better than doing nothing at all. No person has any right to question their attitude.
Because pride is a basic ingredient in man’s sinful makeup, churches can be built upon the pride of men far more easily than they can be built upon the worship of God. The church should never cater to the proud when it engages in the worship of God (Malachi 3:15). Pride in the pulpit ought to be rebuked regardless of how popular and powerful the person may be (1Timothy 3:6). So, too, pride in the pew is equally vile. There is a vast difference between reaching the lost for Christ and churching the unchurched. Sinners today are called seekers because their self-esteem will not tolerate such a degrading (albeit biblical) term like “sinner.” It is impossible to be sensitive to proud “seekers” and to be wholeheartedly engaged in the worship of God at the same time.
Humility is key to revival. In 2Chronicles 7:14, humility precedes the list of other acts of worship. Prayerlessness may be a clear indication of human self-sufficiency, but even prayer can be co-opted to promote pride. The absence of Bible-study can reveal the presence of human self-direction, but Bible-study plus pride is still possible. Regeneration and sanctification are usually missing from the proud man, but even these can become tools of pride when men reform themselves apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Pride is devious and subtle; so subtle and devious that it stood in the glorious presence of God. But pride is impossible when one places God in His proper place. It is then that even the faithful prophet falls and says, “Woe is me, for I am undone.”
For First Chapter click on Christian Worship - What Is It?
For Next Chapter Click on Patterns for Worship
For other messages and illustrations see Pastor B archives