All of Life

Worship involves all of life. We worship when we desire or praise or surrender or obey or thank or serve or trust or rejoice or regret or love. Every one of these is an expression of worship because each of these indicates that something has value to us. In this sense, all of life is worship—not potential worship but actual worship of someone or something.

There is no one-to-one relationship between the English word “worship” and any term in Greek or Hebrew. There are two primary word groups used for worship in the biblical languages: words meaning “to bow, bend, pay homage” and words meaning “to serve, labor.” Curiously, both word groups appear often throughout the Old Testament, but when we come to the NT, something remarkable happens. Both words appear throughout the gospels during the life and ministry of Jesus (and in Revelation), but when we come to the epistles—the letters to churches and church leaders—these words disappear almost entirely. Why?

I believe the answer is found in the words of Jesus, from His conversation with the woman at the well:  “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.’” (Jn 4:21-23)

Jesus is anticipating a worship unbound by specifics of outward form. He deliberately shifts categories from place (“neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”) to internal essence (“in spirit and in truth”). Why? Because of the cross. The cross makes believers holy by Jesus’ blood, which means their whole existence is set apart to God. Our whole life is worship, meant to demonstrate the priceless worth of our Savior.

The way worship is broadened and intensified in the New Testament leads to several implications. First, worship is not merely the Sunday gathering, and it is especially not only singing. Second, there remain no sacred buildings, no sacred rituals of approach to God. Third, God does not measure the acceptability of our life by the fervency of our worship on Sunday. He measures the acceptability of our Sunday worship by the obedience of our daily life.