“Worship does not seek comfort and ease. It does not demand for preferences and rights. It looks an awful lot like Christ on a cross, helpless and foolish to those who would judge, but fully devoted to the will of God.”
Communion and Service
From the very beginning, Adam’s worship of the Creator was based on fellowship and work. God would come down from heaven and commune with His image bearers. Adam worked in the Garden, but the labor was not painstaking. All of their needs were met by God. Food flourished and even their nakedness did not bring them shame.
This was all a part of God’s design and there is no mention of any formal worship service or gathering. Everything that Adam did was an act of worship of the Creator.
Sacrifice and Offering
But when Adam and Eve sinned, it drastically changed the way in which mankind approached God. They went from walking with God in the cool of the day to hiding out of shame for their nakedness. Yet God provided them clothing by sacrificing an animal and covering them with its skin.
After their expulsion from the Garden, we are introduced to the first formal act of worship as Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices before God. Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice, while God refused the sacrifice of Cain.
Throughout the Old Testament sacrifice was a central element of worship. It was designed to connect with the everyday aspects of life. There was no cross section of the human life of which God did not demand tribute.
The sacrificial system was not perfect. God railed against those who thought that they could appease Him and told them what He truly desired: sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 50:14).
Ultimately, God wants our praise. This is the essence of our worship. It is born out of our awe of God, but ultimately it comes from a place of gratitude for His grace and His mercy in our lives. We worship God because we have been redeemed.
This is easy to forget, like the ten lepers who cried out to Jesus forb healing, only one returned to thank Him. Worse, thanksgiving is easy to fake. Psalm 78 describes the people of God repenting and crying out for redemption, but it says, “They flattered Him with their mouths; they lied to Him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward Him; they were not faithful to His covenant.” (Psalm 78:35-36).
A thankful heart leads to a devoted heart. When a woman of ill-repute came to the feet of Jesus with an alabaster jar and washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, He asked the judging onlookers a poignant question, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-42).
Worship does not seek comfort and ease. It does not demand for preferences and rights. It looks an awful lot like Christ on a cross, helpless and foolish to those who would judge, but fully devoted to the will of God. “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.” (Romans 12:1).
God wants more than songs, empty prayers, and sacrifices. God wants to be known by us and capture our delight. This should not be difficult to comprehend, but we often fall into the routine of treating God as though He is a distant deity that simply needs to be appeased so that we can go about our own lives. That is not the God of the Bible. God wants to have a relationship with us, a relationship that takes focus, commitment, and attention.
All of Life as Worship
In the Garden before the fall, Adam and Eve walked with God and worked in His Kingdom. Everything they did was an act of worship. We look forward to that day when the New Heaven and New Earth are culminated in the second coming of Christ where we can go back to that perfect created order of worship. Until then, we must learn to bring everything into alignment with the purposes of God. As the birds of the field can rest in God’s daily provision and the flowers don’t have to worry about their clothes, so we were meant to rest in God and trust Him in all things.
The apostle Paul summarizes this for us so succinctly: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17). Again, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31). Worship is far more than a set of songs that we sing. It becomes a guiding principle in all of life.