Monday, November 4, 2013

The Heart of Worship Series: Why Do We Worship God?

By Oleg Turlac

“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion... I want all that God has or I don't want any.” (A.W. Tozer)

In a song that he composed, Matt Redman expressed the following thought, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about You, All about You, Jesus…"

When one comes to the issue of Christian worship, one usually asks several questions: (1) why do we worship God? (2) Where should we worship God and (3) how should we worship our Lord?
From the time when we are born, we have an awareness of the One who is above us. Our soul longs to worship the One who is greater than we are, to whom we can run at the time of  trouble, and with whom we can share our joys when we are happy.

We Worship God the Creator
First of all, we worship God because he is Creator of the Universe and Creator of us all. In the book of Psalms (33:6-9) we read, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”

We worship the One who created us and to whom we owe our very lives. We cannot worship God if we do not recognize Him as our Creator and the One who is superior to us. He gave us, humans, a special place among his creation. The author of Psalm 8 worships God when we writes, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps.8:3-9)

But how do we know who our God is since we do not see Him? The Bible tells us of who God is. It is in the Bible that we read a story that in the beginning God created the world. This statement is found in the very first chapters of the book of Genesis. Therefore, in order to worship God of the Bible, one has to believe statements spelled out in the holy book. To trust the Bible's testimony, one has to have faith. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is an important component of Christian worship.

As our Creator, God knows who we are indeed and knows what is best for us. We are created according to his design, image and likeness. Therefore, without Him, we cannot know who we truly are. One of outstanding theologians of the Protestant Reformation John Calvin writes in the Magnum Opus of Christian doctrine, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, "It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself."
When we think of God, we realize who we are, and when we look at ourselves, that directs our hearts to God. When we realize that He is holy, this fact moves us to reflect upon our imperfections and sinfulness, and when we look at our inadequacies, that makes us seek God. Calvin continues, "Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness."

We Worship God the Redeemer
We also worship God because He is our Savior and Redeemer. To worship God as a Savior, one has to understand the concept of sin, which is one of the fundamentals of  Christian theology. Because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, there was a need in a Savior. Because no sinful human could satisfy God's divine justice (Rom.3:23), God sent His own Son to fulfill a very important mission -- to die for sinful humanity on the cross of Calvary and this to atone for their sins before God the Father. (John 3:16) Christ paid the price in our place. Because of his death, we are free from the guilt of sin and are given the gift of new life. We worship God because he set the plan of salvation in motion. We worship him out of a sense of gratitude for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ.

So, at this point we come to realize that only a Christian that understands that he has been bought out of the state of slavery to sin and given the gift of new life, can truly worship God.

There is no question that in order to worship God, one has to be born again, otherwise an individual will always wonder, why anyone has a need to go to church and spend time there every Sunday. We worship God not out of obligation, not because we are forced to do it, not because we are used to coming to the house of worship from our very childhood but because we consciously realize that we have been saved from the guilt of sin, and that God as our Savior deserves our worship indeed. He is worthy. One of the wonderful praise songs expresses this in the following words, "Worthy, you are worthy, King of kings and Lord of Lords, you are worthy!"

To be continued…

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© 2013 Oleg Turlac