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December 14, 2016Missiology

Worship Matters

We were created for worship.
Worship Matters
Image: Anna Langova

Worship is one of those fascinating topics that can both unite and divide the church. I've heard it said that “worship matters most” - seemingly a bit of a strong statement, but is it true?

John Piper, in his well-known book Let the Nations Be Glad, wrote this about worship: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”

Obviously, the entrance of sin into the world has somewhat clouded our picture of worship. Yet, the fall did not eliminate the need or desire for worship. It only warped it.

Regardless of where you go in the world - even in places where there are no Christians - you will find worshipers. Worship is something all people do all the time, everywhere.

We were created for worship, and all people need to worship. The key is the direction of our worship.

In a sense, the gospel is an effort to point people from the worship of self toward the worship of God. Jesus, after all, talks about the difference between false worship and true worship.

Something special happens when a believer worships “in spirit and truth.” When a person is made new in Christ, he or she begins to understand the transformative effect of true worship.

LifeWay Research conducted a study about the impact of worship and the influence it has on our walk with Christ. The study found 75 percent of churches that were seeing regular, consistent transformation in the lives of their people saw evidence of God changing lives as a direct result of their worship services or worship experiences.

That is a significant number. And it’s because worship is a significant part of personal spiritual transformation as well as a significant part of growing a healthy church. The impact of our mission will be no greater than the honesty of our worship.

Worship is clearly important, but it also can be controversial. Over the past few decades, disagreements over the purpose and the style of worship have led to disunity and sometimes to severed relationships within the church. It’s known as the “worship wars.”

These differences over the style and purpose of worship illustrate to us the fact that worship is not a purely intellectual exercise. Worship is a deeply rooted emotional experience that is central to the core of who we are as people.

And because of that, when there are disagreements over contrasting styles of worship, it becomes more than an academic argument. It becomes an emotional investment that often bleeds over into conversations with one another - even heated discussions.

Yet, believers are called to engage in worship, not argue about it. It’s a mark of maturity that we do so, and often we do so in churches that worship in ways that are, perhaps, different from our preferences.

Yet, worshiping in ways that are not about us makes sense, doesn't it? That’s at least a part of what it means to offer up worship as service. In other words, it’s not about us, but about Jesus.

Many believers, driven by their preference, make the emotional worship experience all about themselves. But that misses the very point of Christian worship. It must be directed beyond ourselves to Christ.

Worship matters. Yet, at its heart, worship is not about us. My hope is that we might actually worship by putting aside our preferences, focusing on Jesus, and making it all about Him.

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