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The What and the Why of Worship
by Shirley Albee
02/06/11
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What is worship and why do we offer it to God? Worship has been defined in many ways and yet its essence is often not so clear. Some people visit a church service and declare, “Wow! The worship was wonderful!” What do they mean? Others say our worship is expressed in the things we do and in how we obey the dictates of Scripture, and that we worship God because it is His due.

But what is the real reason we worship God? Is it because He is great and wonderful? Is it because He is the provider of so many blessings? Is it because He is Creator, Savior and the only true Lord of all? Yes, He is all those things, and, yes, those attributes do render Him worthy of worship, but is that the “why” of worship?

The “what” of worship and the “why” of worship are so intrinsically entwined that it is difficult to discuss either aspect alone. In fact, it is easy to confuse the two elements, especially because the word, worship, is used interchangeably to express both concepts. A period of music and singing is called worship. At the same time, one may speak of a spirit of worship, referring to an inner attitude. While there are many biblical expressions of worship, the “why” of worship is foundational because worship is a matter of the heart.

Do we worship God because He demands or requires it? God is not some kind of egotist. He neither needs our worship nor does He demand it. There are myriads of angels worshiping God continually in heaven, and though He has given us commandments for our own benefit, we are always free to choose what we will do. Joshua said, "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15) Reason may demand that we worship God, but He Himself does not compel us to do so.

God did not create us for the purpose of paying Him homage. God created us in His image. When God came walking in the garden in the cool of the day after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit and were hiding, He said, “Where are you?” When the fellowship God had with Adam and Eve was broken, God was deeply grieved and, in the fullness of time, He sent Jesus to restore the broken relationship. We were created to have relationship with God!

To worship God is, first, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That is how God has loved us. Worship is about the focus of our devotion. It is about our own heart response to this One so immeasurably greater than ourselves. More than His greatness, more than His omniscience, more than His omnipotence, God is love. We worship God not for what He has done, but for who He is. Who is He to you?


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