I’ve been going to church since before I was born, so I’ve grown up hearing certain words used in particular contexts. These words are often referred to as Christianese—words that aren’t really used by people who don’t hang out at church. If that includes you, please don’t feel left out; sometimes they aren’t really understood by the people who do hang out at church either. One of those words is “worship”. The word worship is sometimes used to refer to an entire Sunday morning service, but is most often used to refer to the part of the church service in which hymns and spiritual songs are sung. This understanding limits the scope of what worship really is.
In an interview recently with John Piper, Louie Giglio said,
We wanted to make sure we could message for the world: worship is not singing songs. Worship is acts of justice. That’s every bit of scripture breathing that out, and the heart of it for me is Hebrews 13:15-16. Through Jesus then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, which is—so here’s the definition—the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name—so bring a song—but then he says, and don’t neglect doing good and sharing with others for with these sacrifices God is pleased. And so if our purpose in worship is to feel good, we’re just going to keep singing songs, but if our purpose in worship is for God to be pleased, then we’re going to figure out what pleases God, and what pleases God is when the last and least of these are touched.
Worship then is using our voices, whether in song or not, to acknowledge God’s name—to give Him praise—remembering that the only reason we can come before God at all is because we have gained access to Him through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. (John 14:6) But worship is also doing what pleases God—doing good and sharing with others. Jesus says that there are really only two commandments, to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:37-40) He also says that what you do for others, you do for Him. (Matthew 25:40) James says that good deeds are an extension of our faith. (James 1:27, James 2:8, James 2:14-22) The next time you are singing songs in church, I hope that you will be truly worshipping God, but realize that true worship goes far beyond those few moments.