Friday, October 27

Who Put the "I" in Worship?

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… –Exodus 20:5a (NIV)

At least once a week, Christians around the world make an effort to attend what are sometimes referred to as worship services. The westernized world generally regards worship as any action of honor and adoration directed to God. Church attendance in and of itself is worship; tithing is worship; singing hymns and songs of praise is worship. As wonderful and important as each of those elements are, somehow they fail to embody the true essence of what it is that God desires from us.

Lately I have been contemplating the true meaning of the word worship. In doing so I have seen that the way I engage in worship is not quite on target with how God’s word defines it.

The word itself is an English translation used to represent two separate Hebrew words or ideas. The first means, literally, to bow down or genuflect. The second definition encompasses attitudes and actions of service. For the Hebrew people and Jews today, Torah study is worship, keeping to the law is worship....it is not worship in the same sense that Christians understand it.

When the temple curtain symbolically ripped in two at the time of Christ’s death, the ritualistic aspects of worship,particularly those involving who could come into God's presence to ask for forgiveness of sins, were abolished. No longer do we need a high priest to intercede for us. We can worship God in his presence just as we are. This is why the New Testament terminology for the word “worship” is slightly different from what we find in the Old Testament. Proskuneo literally means “to kiss toward” or “to bow down.” The second word, latreuo, means “to honor.”

Throughout scripture, the emphasis is not on the person doing the worshipping, but the One being worshipped. As we prepare to come into God’s presence this upcoming Sabbath, let us not focus on unimportant details, but rather on the most important detail—God. The Lord’s Day is not just an hour out of our weekly schedule where we dress up and feel good about being a Christian. It is about contemplating God’s holiness, honoring him, and bowing at his feet with humility. He who is the great I AM is worthy of our adoration and dutiful worship.


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