Worship is a term we throw around quite often today. People are said to worship celebrities. Or football. Or the almighty dollar. In the summer, we hear of sun worshipers—who sacrifice their skin for a temporary tan.
But “worship” usually comes from the religious context, where Christians hear about it all the time. In the car, we turn on worship music. Our churches have scheduled worship services. Are we really worshiping?
In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible word for worship implies a bowing down in reverence to a superior. We see both joy and humility when people worship God in passages like 1 Kings 8 and Nehemiah 8-9.
Some folks like to express their worship in a formal, liturgical way; others prefer spontaneous emotion. What does Jesus say about it? He makes it clear in John 4, that worship doesn’t have to be in a certain place, but two things do matter: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).
“In spirit” means it can’t be just words we recite. True worship must come from our hearts. We don’t want to be hypocrites who honor God with their lips but have hearts far from Him. That’s worthless worship (Matthew 15:8-9). Instead, worship should come from hearts that love and treasure God above all else.
And we must worship Him “in truth.” It’s not what we imagine about God, but what God is really like that we should be praising. That truth will come only from the Word of God (John 17:17).
Christians tend to err one way or the other: worshiping with heartfelt emotion or with precise accuracy of doctrine. But God desires we worship Him in both spirit and truth. Let our hearts and heads come together in God-exalting worship.