Worship is a vital part of every Christian’s life. We are called to honor God in every part of our lives, including in those moments when our attention is on Him—privately and corporately. We may love those moments of being close to our Creator, but do we really understand what true worship is?
Biblical worship means to kiss toward, like a dog licking his master. It also means to prostrate in reverence and adoration. It is pure focus on the one receiving the worship. A perfect example is the story of the woman who worshiped Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. Though she was a sinner, this woman shamelessly knelt at Jesus’ feet to honor Him with her worship.
And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil (vs. 37-39).
During that time in Jewish history, people would lie on cushions by low tables with their feet outstretched behind them. As Jesus reclined, this woman gave something valuable to Him. She poured out something costly—spiritual worship from her heart, manifesting physically through her posture, tears, and oil on His feet. She expressed her love toward Him by giving her best when no one else would.
Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil (vs. 44-48).
This woman understood something many of us forget—Jesus is the Son of God. Like the disciples in this story, we can become so familiar with our Savior that we forget Who He is and how much He deserves our respect. This forgetfulness is often reflected in our “worship” when our focus is really on our needs rather than on Him—the One who is truly deserving of it.
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:12-18).
This same Jesus is calling us to come boldly, without fear, into His throne room (Hebrews 14:6). While on earth, our entrance into God’s throne room is spiritual, not physical. But like the disciple John and the woman at Jesus’ feet, how would we respond if we saw Jesus physically in front of us? Would we chatter off our prayer requests and cry over our problems, or would we fall prostrate in homage to His Lordship? He is, after all, always present (Matthew 28:20).
To completely ignore our lives and focus on the Person of Jesus is a challenge to our flesh. It’s easy to make our “worship” all about us rather than about Jesus when we’re going through hardship. Our minds want to go to questions such as: “What am I going to get out of this moment? How are my circumstances going to change if I sing to Him?” However, Who He is and what He has done for us should alone inspire us to give Him our undivided attention. We have the responsibility to satisfy His heart before He satisfies ours. The First and the Last is worthy of our selfless worship.
We may not realize it, but we were created for this role of worship. It is our life-long ministry calling—whether we do it from our bedrooms without music or a church platform with it. All through the Bible we can read about priests who ministered to God. This, among other things, was part of their job description when serving in the temple. It was a high honor to offer incense of worship to the Most High God. Not everyone had this privilege or was even qualified for it. But after Jesus rose from the dead, all believers were made kings and priests unto Him. We were included in God’s royal priesthood (Revelation 1:6, 1 Peter 2:9). We have an honorable role to fill, but how we fill it is up to us.
The truth is, God doesn’t find the worship He deserves everywhere. Obviously, He doesn’t find it among people who haven’t received Jesus as Lord and Savior. He doesn’t always find it among believers, either. Because of this, He must seek out worshippers.
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
God isn’t looking for worshippers who will worship from their heads out of habit. He’s looking for those who will worship Him in the truth of His Word from a pure, honest heart. Though we do ultimately benefit from worship, we shortchange God when we focus on what we can get out of it rather than on what we can give. How saddened God must be when we first enter His presence with our need before our love. He doesn’t require musical talent, the most popular song, or an eloquent eulogy. He simply deserves our best—from a heart of adoration.
If God searched our hearts, what would He find? And how would our hearts determine our worship? Will we shamelessly pour our affection on Jesus, or will we be more concerned about what other people are thinking and doing? Will we wholly giving our affection to Jesus, or will something or someone hold our hearts instead? Will we forget about ourselves and devote our attention to the One Who’s truly worthy of it? If a sinner can worship with pure, heart-felt extravagance, then so can we.
You’ve never worshiped the Lord until you forget about yourself. – Cindy Duvall, Shekinah Glory