Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ceaseless Praise: Why is Worship Important?

Innumerable times throughout scripture, we are commanded to worship God. Many of those times are in the Psalms. In Psalm 19 we are told, “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Everything that was created, in the heavens and on the earth, has been created to give glory to God and it does. Worshiping in song is commanded over and over again, “Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright…Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” Or in Psalm 34, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth…Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” Chapter after chapter exhorts us individually, corporately, to worship God and praise His name by telling of His great deeds by speaking, shouting, singing, and playing instruments with skill. But why are we commanded to worship God? Simply put, it’s because worship is a way for us to declare and display God’s glorious deeds among the peoples.

We worship God because He created all, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:6-7) Before the foundation of the world He not only knew us but also foreordained that we should be. God knew that all of us would sin and fall short of His glory. His holiness could not allow us to worship Him in our wretched state. But in His sovereign mercy He did not leave us condemned, but sent His son as propitiation for our sins, bearing the wrath that is rightfully ours so we, and our worship, could be redeemed. The author of Hebrews shows us well how we ought to respond to this news, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” If we have truly been redeemed, our lives should be filled with ceaseless praise!

But does that mean that we must sing, shout or play instruments all day long? Are those the only forms of worship? I would argue that they are not. Worship is letting your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel. It’s putting on the full armour of God to resist the devil’s schemes; it’s letting no corrupting talk come out of our mouths, but only what will edify your brother. Worship is loving one another as Christ loved us and bearing one another’s burdens. It’s boasting in our weaknesses and being steadfast, abounding in the love of the Lord. It’s not losing hope though our outer nature fades away but being fervent in spirit. Not conforming to the world but being changed by the renewing of our minds. Worship is essentially glorifying God in word, spirit and action and encouraging others to do the same.

So why is worship important? Because that’s what we were created for. And at the end of time, people from every tongue, tribe and nation will be gathered before the throne and we will spend eternity together praising God for His mercy. “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Rev. 15:4) At the end of time, God will receive from everyone the glory due His name, and how much more pleasant that will be if we worship as the redeemed rather than the condemned!

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