- On June 29, 2016
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Worship is a verb. Worship is not something that is done to us or for us, but it is something that is done by us. Robert Webber
The concept of worship as a verb is as biblical as it gets. Throughout the Bible there are directions to us like, “worship in spirit and truth” and “worship the Lord with gladness.” But the modern church most often chooses to use the word as a noun.
The root of the word worship is certainly defined as a noun since it was used to describe a person of importance, worthy of extra respect. You can see it in books dealing with kings or magistrates when they are referred to as, “your Worship.” Technically, the word worship is a noun. Webster’s Dictionary identifies worship as a noun with a definition of “the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god: the act of worshipping God or a god.” Or, worship can mean “excessive admiration for someone.” Some of us only use worship to describe a place we are going, often synonymous with church, “I am going to worship today,” or “What time do you go to worship?” We can also use it to describe something we saw, but did not necessarily participate in like “that was really great worship today.”
So what difference does the grammar lesson matter to us as modern Christians? Because for most of us a noun is something that we watch or a place we go. A verb, however, is something that we do and worship is definitely something that the Bibles says we should be doing, not watching! There are 254 occurrences of the word worship in the Bible and all of them are are used to refer to an action or a place where action happens.
Why then do we so often “come to worship(a place)” and not “come to worship(an action)?” I am always amazed at how often Christians attend a service of worship only to sit on the sidelines watching the action. I have heard and understand all of the excuses we make, “I don’t like or can’t sing the songs,” “the preaching is over my head/not deep enough for me,” or even, “I would but I am not sure what to do.” The problem is none of that works from a biblical perspective. The Bible says we are called to worship. We are responsible for the action of worship, not someone else. Not only is this something that someone cannot do for us, it is also not the responsibility of someone else to provide us with some kind of perfect opportunity.
I attend a worship service at a church in my area where the music from the platform is not good at all and to be honest, the preaching is worse. Yet week after week this particular service is almost standing room only with one of the most diverse congregations I have ever seen. Even though the music leadership is not great the congregation sings. Even though the sermon is really not very good the people are attentive. When it comes time to pray it is clear that the congregation is fervently seeking the Lord in prayer. The people of this church are worshipping God in all things, not merely attending a worship service seeking the desires of their heart and God is blessing their church.
Worship is a verb. It is meant to be practiced. I believe that congregations must take responsibility for their own worship actions instead of always wishing that the leaders of the church would provide them with something more to their liking.