During the early 2000s I attended the evening service at a local Free Church of Scotland in Argyll. The minister opened the service with the following invitation, "Let us resume the worship of God by singing Psalm..." That comment grated on me then and still does today. Was the minister implying that what took place between the morning and evening service was something less than true worship?
By contrast, a good number of years after that I joined the young people I work with at a south of Glasgow youth event called 'Catalyst.' The evening was a mix of worship and teaching. The very last song we sang that night was, in my mind, a stroke of genius. As we finished and headed home, anticipating the week ahead, we were invited to sing, "Come, now is the time to worship..." Leaving a "worship event" we were encouraged to contemplate that the coming week was an opportunity to serve and honour God...a true offering of worship to God.
Worship dominates the whole Bible; it is to be the focus and priority of the people of God. "Ascribe to The Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness" (Psalm 29:2).
With this kind of emphasis it seems clear that we need a big view of worship.
From what I understand of the Bible I see worship flowing in at least three directions...
...the Outward Flow...
In Romans 14 the apostle Paul says that if our actions have a negative impact on other Christians we should respond appropriately. Sensitivity to our brothers and sisters in their needs is an act of worship. "If you serve (worship) Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too" (Romans 14:18).
Jump forward a chapter and we discover that Paul is describing his view of outreach and evangelism. "For by God’s grace, I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:15-16). When Paul communicated the Good News it was an act of worship.
Towards the end of his letter to the Philippians Paul expresses gratitude for the financial support given to him by this church family. "At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18). Our response to those in need is an act of worship.
...the Inward Flow...
I see a powerful contrast between misguided worship and God-honouring worship in Scripture. "...a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world......live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true." (Ephesians 5:5, 8-9).
Our personal conduct is an act of worship.
...the Upward Flow...
"Let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God" (Hebrews 13:15-16).
When I see worship as a response to God, woven through the fabric of my life, it is amazing how my attitude changes towards the circumstances I face. In that light, worshipping lives can be summed up in the words of an old adage...
God is glorified
I am purified
Fellow Christians are edified
The local community is evangelised