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Worship as Performance

The difference between a biblical and a pagan understanding of worship lies in the difference between a verb and a noun.

What is worship? Our English word comes from the Anglo-Saxon weorthscipe, which means "to honor" or "to ascribe worth." It is interesting that, in this regard, the Book of Common Prayer, 1662, includes within the vows for the solemnization of matrimony: "with my body I thee worship." That is a fairly succinct statement of the biblical understanding of sexuality.

The Old Testament Hebrew word used for worship means "a bowing down." Keep this in mind. For the Hebrews, worship was a verb, something you did. The same idea is behind the New Testament Greek word for worship which means "to serve." In anticipation of what I will be saying later, let me suggest this to you: the difference between a biblical and a pagan understanding of worship lies in the difference between a verb and a noun. For the person of the Bible, worship is something you do. For the pagan, worship is a state of being.

What is it, then, we do when we ascribe worth to God and bow down and serve him on Sunday morning? I believe ...

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