True Christian worship is so much more than just praising God through hymn-singing and prayers, or hearing the sermon or the preaching of the words of God.
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP IS often thought of as a form of religious practice with its creeds and rituals; or, a heartfelt reverence, admiration for or devotion and gratitude to a divine being; thus, singing hymns of praises is an essential part of the worship service and it is not uncommon for many to say, “I was really moved by the hymn-singing.” Another picture of such service is the sermon; and often people will emerge from the worship service saying, “The sermon was indeed wonderful and inspiring.”
Nevertheless, true worship is not confined to singing or hearing the sermon or the preaching of the words of God—although they are both parts of a congregational worship service (I Cor. 14:26, 15). True Christian worship is so much more than these things. One thing is clear though: all people—including all those who profess to be Christians who may differ in the manner they worship God because of their different doctrines and beliefs—are hoping that their worship is true and acceptable to God.
And so, who are the true Christians whose worship will be accepted by God? What are the components of a true worship of God? What manner of worship is acceptable to Him?
The ones whom God holds responsible to worship Him is His nation or the people whom He has elected:
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice.” (Ps. 95:6–7 New King James Version)
As the nation elected by God in these last days (Isa. 62:11–12; John 15:16; Col. 1:18; Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation), the Church Of Christ considers worshiping God as the primary obligation of every member. Moreover, to worship and serve God is to recognize that He is our Creator:
“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:2–3 nkjv)
To worship God—who is just, perfect, and our Creator who gives us all we have—must be the primary focus of our worship services.
Of course, all of mankind has been created by God—everyone has the basic obligation to worship and serve Him. Yet the many people of the world reject and abandon this primary obligation of man: they do not recognize the Creator or fail to worship God. There are those who even though they belong to a religion or engage in worship, they “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator”, the images of other humans, “and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things”
(Rom. 1:21, 25, 23 nkjv).
Thus, we should not abandon our responsibility to worship our Lord God because He expects that we who are in His nation will fulfill this obligation. Turning away from this inherent obligation will result in His wrath to be revealed (Rom. 1:18, 28–31). Furthermore, because of this violation of God’s commandment to worship and serve Him, not only have the people of this world been given over to a debased mind to do those things that are not fitting—hence, many kinds of immorality and evil are now taking place in the world—but also they will be punished with everlasting destruction on Judgment Day (II Thess. 1:8–10).
Returning to God
For man to once again receive the right to worship and serve God, he must enter His gates:
“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Ps. 100:2-4 nkjv)
Christ is the way so that man may come to the Father (John 14:6 nkjv). He also made clear that He is the door or the gate and that those who enter Him are in his fold (John 10:9 Revised English Bible). The fold or flock being referred to is the Church Of Christ:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.”
(Acts 20:28 Lamsa)
Therefore, it is in the Church Of Christ that we can find those who have entered Christ who is the door-way introduced by the Bible. So that man may receive the right to return to and worship God, he first needs to enter the Church Of Christ. Without a doubt, therefore, the Church of Christ is indispensable so that man may fulfill his basic duty to serve and worship God.
It goes without saying then that we who are already inside the Church Of Christ are expected by God to dedicate ourselves in fulfilling this obligation. We should not belittle nor take for granted, much less abandon this duty. Let us never fail God in what He expects of us: to worship and exalt His name together in His temple or in the house of worship
(Ps. 48:1, 9–10).
Offering true worship
We can surely glorify God in our congregational worship service if we offer true worship to Him. This can be accomplished if we offer ourselves as “a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him …” (Rom. 12:1 Good News Bible). The New King James rendition of the same verse states that “you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God …” Thus, we should shun all things that would make us unholy so that our worship service to God would be true and acceptable to Him. We should uphold righteous lives, resisting temptations and putting away sin from our lives.
And if we are already inside the house of worship, we should always observe holiness which befits the house of worship (Ps. 93:5). Needless to say, we should never sleep nor allow our minds to wander off during the congregational worship service especially during the sermon. Instead, we should be good listeners—doing or obeying, not forgetting what we have heard. Neither should we bring food, cellphones, etc. inside—among others, it is not a place for eating and engaging in meaningless conversation with anyone or sending instant messages to others. Nothing should distract us from our obligation to worship God. Any activity then that interferes with worshiping Him must be avoided; the sanctity and solemnity of the occasion must be respected.
Participating actively in the hymn-singing, listening intently during the preaching of God’s words, and expressing agreement with “Amen” at appropriate times during the congregational prayers are also a must in rendering true and acceptable worship to God.
In addition, God’s elect show their dedication to worshiping Him by fulfilling it “at all times” and praising Him “continually” (Ps. 34:1 nkjv). Amid escalating poverty, terrorism, pandemic diseases, disasters and other challenges of the 21st century, God’s children vow to be dedicated to the worship service. They show their dedication in praising God by adhering to the apostles’ strict instruction not to forsake it:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:25–27 nkjv)
Proper conduct and attitude
Moreover, in order for the congregational worship service to truly glorify God, and be true and acceptable to Him, it must be done “in a proper and orderly way” (I Cor. 14:40 gnb). Hence, we should heed the Church officers who see to it that proper conduct and attitude is being observed by the worshipers—from the time they enter, sit down and listen to the sermon, and until the time they leave the worship building—to show our respect to God.
We must put a premium on proper behavior during worship services for “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (I Cor.14:33 New International Version). In worship, everything must be done in harmony and with order. Clearly, we will not feel His presence if there is disorder or confusion during our holy gathering.
Proper and appropriate attire must be observed as well:
“Worship the LORD in holy array; tremble before him, all the earth!” (Ps. 96:9 Revised Standard Version)
We should follow the instruction about the proper clothes to wear during congregational worship services to show we accord utmost respect to God.
Indeed, proper decorum during our worship services plays an important part in offering true worship to God and praising Him. On the other hand, worshipers who displease God are those who come near to Him with their mouth and honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Isa. 29:13). God wants wholehearted service be offered to Him: serving Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind (I Chr. 28:9), and to serve Him with gladness (Ps. 100:2). Undoubtedly, God demands nothing less than our full attention.
Therefore, we should prepare our hearts and minds for worship. Our worship service should not become routinary. It is not just another ordinary activity in a busy schedule; that we are just going through the motions, so to speak. Let us always remember that God is watching the heart of His servants who worship Him, expecting them to do what glorifies and pleases Him (Deut. 10:12).
Significance of the Holy Spirit
Showing that He also gives great importance to our congregational worship service, our Lord Jesus Christ had this promise:
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20 nkjv)
This can be done through His spirit or the Holy Spirit which is also the “Comforter” which God sends into our hearts (Gal. 4:6; John 14:16–17 King James Version). The Holy Spirit is the power that strengthens us (Eph. 3:16–17).
Thus, even though this world has been filled with so much worries and troubles, we find comfort and strength when we feel the power of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the reason others are overcome by problems in life is that they do not feel the Holy Spirit in the worship service. That happens because they grieve the Holy Spirit with the works of the flesh—bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice—that they do (Eph. 4:30–31).
So, let us make sure that we constantly feel the power of God or the Holy Spirit every time we come to worship Him. Let us lead a life of holiness in His sight. Let us never allow sin to take control of our lives.
Another significance of the Holy Spirit is that God pours out His love into our hearts through it during the worship services:
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Rom. 5:5 niv)
More importantly, the Holy Spirit testifies that “we are God’s children” and thus, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17 niv) because the seal of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our being redeemed and of being God’s purchased possession (Eph. 1:13–14).
Immense blessings, such as experiencing the Holy Spirit as the most important, are indeed in store for us every time we worship God. Conversely, our worship services will not be complete, hence, meaningless if we do not feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Longing to worship
God’s servants long for Him every time they gather themselves together to worship Him:
“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.” (Ps. 63:1–2 nkjv)
Furthermore, we should always remember His kindness everytime we gather together; and His goodness should inspire us to worship with thanksgiving and praise:
“Praise the Lord, my soul! All my being, praise his holy name! Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy.” (Ps.103:1–4 gnb)
Even in the most trying times and amid the most difficult circumstances, we should never forget God and neglect the worship service—we should all the more put our hope in God and praise Him (Ps. 42:5–6). We should earnestly seek God in our worship service because it is during this holy gathering that He answers our prayers and delivers us from all our fears:
“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. … I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. … Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
(Ps. 34:1, 4, 8 niv)
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine.