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Following Jesus by Practicing WORSHIP

Recap and Intro

Our identity in Christ is “Beloved” of the Father. We become who we are in Christ by a life-long spiritual (trans)formation, learning to live a life of love… as God is love, imitating our Father… as we see in Jesus in his sacrificial life of love, following our elder brother.

Our core values that make this identity and spiritual formation real are: 1) following Jesus, 2) forming (in) community, 3) fishing the world, 4) as fits our context, 5) to be free to love.

Our key priorities enabling us to daily practice our highest value of following Jesus (intimate relationship with God) are: The Word, Worship, Prayer, and Holy Spirit Ministry. 

The Word is our 1st priority and practice because it’s God’s self-revelation to us. We come to know God/Jesus by the daily reading, study, meditation and memorization of his Word.

Worship is our 2nd priority and practice because it is our response to God’s self-revelation.

WHY worship of God? WHAT is worship?

The only adequate response to God’s Word to us – God’s self-revelation as sheer beauty, glory, love and mercy, in Christ and creation – is awe and adoration. Paul says in Ephesians 3:14, the more we see who God is and what God has done for us, we cannot help but fall to our knees in total surrender and pay homage… this is worship… the (returned) gift of who we are and all we have, because of who God is and all God has done.

“Worship” comes from the old English “worth-ship”: to adore and proclaim the full worth and value of God, or someone or something; or to give worth/value to someone/something by our time, energy and money, thus making them/it (G)god in our lives. All native cultures witness to the fact that all humans are incurably religious in the sense that we instinctively worship someone or something – because we’re spiritual: we’re made by God, for God!

The Bible reveals there is only one God of Ultimate Eternal Worth and Value, unknowable mystery. God took the initiative in overflowing love and revealed himself: a) implicitly in creating all things (Psalm 19:1f, Romans 1:20), b) specifically in history through Israel (the Old Testament), and c) fully in Jesus of Nazareth (the New Testament). God became human in Jesus: in him we see and know God (John 14:6, Colossians 1:15-20) as ultimate goodness, love, mercy, forgiveness – yet not without justice and judgement on sin and evil. Our only adequate response to this God, “the only true God” (John 17:3), is awe-filled surrender of ourselves, to adoringly express and live the intrinsic value of God’s nature and work… this is worship. In fact, humans were made in God’s likeness to be his image-bearers to all creation. To worship is to fulfill our purpose in creation: worship is to exalt, proclaim and incarnate who God is and what he’s done – doing his will on earth as it is in heaven – for all people and all created reality to see God and come to know and worship the One who made them. Then we will indeed have heaven on earth… perfect peace, pristine paradise, joy-filled love…

Alternatively, who or what we give ultimate value to, in time, energy and money, is our god (we cannot add value to God, we can merely express/reflect his intrinsic worth). All other (G)god(s) are no gods – they are spiritual and human creations to replace God. Lucifer, one of God’s most awesome created beings, looked on God’s glorious perfection and lusted to be God, to take God’s place. Lucifer’s pride-filled rebellion led to his judgement and downfall. Known as “Satan” – “one who opposes God” – he deceived human beings, God’s image on earth. Adam and Eve believed Satan’s word (lies) against God’s Word (truth). Trusting their own (ir)rational judgement/beliefs they broke faith with God and became (their own) god (see Genesis 3:1f). However, though they thought and acted like god(s), they were enslaved to the spiritual power of Satan, the new god of the earth – “the god of this age that blinds the minds of those who don’t believe in Jesus” (2Corinthians 4:4). Human beings have become Satan’s image-bearers, revealing his evil nature and work – doing his will on earth as it is in hell – for all people and created reality to see and know and worship the evil one. And so we have hell on earth… war worldwide, polluted earth, selfish misery and hatred…

This is precisely why God (YHWH, revealed in Messiah Jesus) says: “I AM the LORD your God, you shall have no other gods before me”… for your own sake, for earth’s sake, for all created reality’s sake! Therefore, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 5:6-7, 6:5). This is the biblical idea of true worship. As per this definition and criteria: who or what do you worship? Who or what is your (G)god? To whom or what do you give your time, energy and money?

HOW do we worship God (revealed in Jesus Christ)? 

The Hebrew Testament uses numerous words to describe worship of YHWH, all centered in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and all descriptive of body postures (attitudes, actions and behaviors), such as prostrating oneself in awe of God, kneeling in humility, bowing in adoration, standing in honor, lifting hands in praise, singing and making music to God, shouting in celebration, dancing for joy, obeying his commands, and so on. All this shows that what we believe and feel about God deep inside is (should be) expressed bodily/outwardly.

The Greek New Testament uses two key words for worship:

Proskyneo means “to bow down and kiss”, as in paying homage, or as in intimate adoration. Here’s the same idea that bowing our knees symbolizes our bowing to the will of the Exalted One – the surrender of our will, our body, in worship. Also, here’s the profound intimacy we can experience with God in the worship encounter (“kiss the Son”, Psalm 2:12). Jesus said God seeks true worshippers (proskynetes) who worship (proskyneo) God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). I.e. The Father seeks those who worship him in the truth revealed in his Son, Messiah Jesus, and in the freedom of his Spirit, whom he gives us.

Latreou means “to serve”, as in the priestly service of worship (sacrifices) in the Temple. Paul says we must offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, for this is our spiritual latreou (worship, Romans 12:1). I.e. worship is making our bodies available to serve God and glorify him in all we do, every day, every moment. Our waking, how we talk to our families, how we treat people, our daily work and how we do it… are all acts of spiritual worship to God.

Therefore, worship is both an act of adoration (proskyneo) and a lifestyle of service (lateou). We not only have “times of worship” in private devotions and church meetings, but ALL we do ought to be done for God and with God, in worship of God, for his fame and glory!

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