The true meaning of worship
In the Old Testament, God had a clear-cut description of how He was to be worshiped through sacrifice; but in the age of Acts, worship has become a culture dominated by catchy tunes and far less sacrifice.
Is this pleasing to God?
When the roots of the word “worship” are taken into consideration, the power behind this word is revealed.
Three Greek words for worship were used throughout the New Testament. “Proskuneo” was used some 59 times and means, “to kiss, like a dog licks his master’s hand, fawn or crouch to.”
“Sebomai” was used 10 times and translates, “to reverence, to hold in awe.”
The third, “latreuo,” is “to render religious service of homage” and was used 21 times.
The main Hebrew word for worship, “shachah,” means, “to depress, prostrate, bow down, crouch, fall down, humbly beseech, do obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop.”
The passion in each of those definitions has an intensity that takes on physical form. Consider for a moment “proskuneo.” When a dog approaches its owner in loving excitement, it does not greet him with a nudge and a flip of the tail. Rather, it licks the hand stretched out to it in a manner of adoration and love. Do we express our adoration and love to God in such an obvious manner?
“Sebomai” and “latreuo” call for awe and reverence. Is that evident in our worship?
“Shachah’s” translation is one of humility. How humble are we in our worship?
Worship lasts much longer than the final cord of your favorite praise song, and goes far beyond the doors of church buildings and gymnasiums turned into chapels. It is not merely the music played during service because worship is more than a catchy tune. Worship is more than the raising of hands and closing of eyes. Worship is more than knowing the words to every Hillsong and Jesus Culture song. To see only this aspect of worship is to only look at the frame of a stained glass window.
As proved in the definitions of these root words, worship is an intense interaction between God and us.
We do not need music to be in awe of God’s glory, nor do we need impressive lighting and elaborate sound equipment. While these things are intended to help us experience God by hopefully capturing our attention and holding it on the lyrics we are singing, we should not forget that worship extends beyond this.
According to John 4:23-24, “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (HCSB).
Often this piece of scripture is referenced as a call to be in the right mindset or have the right attitude for times of worship. It can also be applied to the fact that, since the Trinity leaves God and the Holy Spirit inseparable, He is omnipresent and can be worshiped anytime (and anywhere, for that matter).
Even when the music fades and the house lights are turned back up, even when you are walking around campus and even while you interact with others you can be in worship. Living in pure adoration with respectful humility and reverence is a way of being in worship with the Lord.
Thanks to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we need not produce bloody sacrificial offerings to God as described in the Old Testament; however, our constant worship should reflect the reverence, humility, adoration and love expressed through the root of the word.