Start from the very beginning
that’s a very good place to start.
First, let me apologize for my hiatus, I got a bit crazy there for a while, and now I am back!
When we talk about new or uncommon terms, in this case, “worship formation” it helps to define some of those terms individually before we get into a deeper discussion of what the new meaning might be and how we are going to pursue after those things.
Today, I will attempt to define “worship” and will most likely fail because over the years so many have succeeded at writing incomplete definitions for worship and I think you can now add my name to the list. While it is tempting to provide Webster’s answer for worship, I am going to stick with specifically Christian uses of the word and avoid (however valid it may be) other contexts.
Ok, so here we go.
I have heard numerous definitions of worship over the years, and perhaps the simplest is offered by Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church, he says that worship is “love expressed.” I appreciate the simplicity of this definition more than anything else. Of course, this definition applies to any context, but the importance of what he has written here is the word “expressed.” We can “love” many things: peanut butter, The Beatles, gourmet food, but until we express that love some form, worship does not occur. I think we get caught in the trap where we think it is ok not to express our love for God.
“I don’t want to sing, God knows my heart.”
“I don’t know how to pray, so I mostly avoid it.”
“My company is completely secular and doesn’t have anything to do with God.”
(or, my personal favorite)
“Yeah, but, cheering for [insert sports team here] is different than praising God.” (it should be, but I bet this one is backwards!)
Somehow we have allowed ourselves to think that it is acceptable to love God in our “hearts” but not express it! We have settled for such low and disappointing definitions of worship. We cloud our lives with the worship of lower things, expressing love for self, family, money, jobs, sports, technology, and more while continually loving God “in our hearts.”
So, I arrive at a basic, but workable definition: worship is putting our love, hope, and worth in someone or something and then expressing that love. Incomplete? Probably, but it’s a place to start, I suppose.
Humans are made to worship. In many ways, we constantly worship something, and are constantly being formed (more on that in the next post) by what we worship. When God commanded us to not make for ourselves an idol, he knew one day we would have all of the non-statue idols we have today, and knew that we would seek them above Him. It is ok to love and express love to things other than God, but God is always the greatest and ultimate recipient of our love, hope and worth.
John Piper, on his son’s wedding, wrote a poem entitled Love Her More, Love Her Less encouraging his son to love and care for his new bride over everything else on earth, but his worship of God should make his love for even her pale in comparison.
Finally, I’ve included this video below to spark your mind on what it means to worship and destroy the idols in our lives.
Have anything to add or subtract?
Please comment below!