I went to a worship night at my church last night and worship broke out. Now before you say, “Duh, what else would you do at a worship night?”, consider the definition of worship. As John Eldredge teaches, believing worship is singing is a damaging assumption. Yes, we worship through song. But the Bible teaches worship is so much more than lifting up praise songs and hymns to our God. Our pastor knows that and he included scripture readings and words of counsel to turn our hearts toward treasuring all who God is and all that he offers.
Worship is what I give my heart to. I worship who or what l believe gives me life. (That’s the whole problem with worshiping idols – anyone or anything other than God. Idols aren’t life giving. Well, that and the 2nd Commandment!). Last night I saw a few members of my church give their heart’s worship to God by loving a guest at our worship service.
At one point in the service while my pastor was talking about the life God offers us, this guest cried out (cried in the literal sense) from the back of the room, “But what if you have an addiction?” My pastor, Mike, was not annoyed. He did not fall into the false assumption that the worship service was being interrupted. He continued worship by inviting this gentleman to repeat his question, because Mike couldn’t hear him. The man chose not to repeat the question but wept as Mike continued to talk about the life Jesus offers all of us.
A woman who was sitting at the back of the room chose to worship by walking over to our guest, standing behind him and putting her hands on his shoulders. Another member of my church chose to worship by kneeling in front of this weeping man and hugging him. The man held on for dear life. The hugging turned into a long time of holding. And because I know the good hearts of so many in that room last night, others chose to worship by silently praying that this man would find his healing, security, significance and life by coming into a worship-filled relationship with our God.
I love an example John Eldredge gives of worshipping in the Bible: the Magi who came to worship the newborn king Jesus. Do we imagine them breaking out in song? In Romans 12:1 worship is described in this way, “I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” It doesn’t say offer your songs (although that is worship also); it says to offer your bodies.
Worship broke out at my church last night. Followers of Christ offered their comfort, their hands, their arms, their shoulders, and prayers for a child of God in an act of worship to their God. I imagine God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit smiling. I also imagine them weeping.