Worship: In Christ or In Vain?


The word ‘worship’ is a loaded word. We often associate it with passionate singing and some perhaps to an experience or a feeling. But authentic worship is not just that. It is much broader and deeper than Sundays and Wednesday nights.


Our english word ‘worship’ comes from an old word ‘worthship’, which meant to proclaim and give worth to something you consider precious and supremely valuable.

There is a man I read about recently who illustrates this idea perfectly. This guy is a Birmingham City football fanatic who has not missed a live game for 38 years. He has watched over 1800 matches in a row from the age of 15 and once even discharged himself from hospital, raced to Wales and watched them play. He has missed family gatherings and Christmas lunches for his beloved team. He is a worshipper! You just have to look at where you invest most of your spare time and money and there you will find your object of worship.

That football fan invested his devotion, time, attention and money into something he considers as worthy and precious. The Bible actually calls this kind of attitude ‘idolatry’. Idolatry is where we give our highest love and trust to something that is not God.  But God’s intent is that we worship Him since He understands that only He can truly satisfy us. Only He is supremely valuable.

An Appearance of Worship

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were devoted to God yet Jesus tells them; “this people honours me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me” (Matt 15:8-9). The Pharisees are condemned because they worshiped and idolized their traditions and heritage more than the Lord himself. They studied the scriptures but neglected the living Lord of the scriptures. God judged their hearts to be far from God.

The prophet Amos tells the ancient Jews who were really good at religious worship that God actually hated their meetings and feasts. “I hate, I despise your feasts…. take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen” (Amos 5:21-23). Their songs to God became an offense because they neglected to match it with a heart of obedience and love for others. That is the height of hypocrisy.

Authentic Worship

My fear is that in our exuberance to be passionate for God, it is possible to worship in vain- that God would say, “take away from me the noise of your songs”!

Don’t get me wrong. I love the songs and our passionate corporate worship times. In fact, exuberant and demonstrative singing is one of the signs of being a Spirit-filled Christian (see Eph 5:18-19, Rom 12:11). But let’s not forget that worship is a living response to seeing God as worthy and precious. It is a life of obedient devotion centred around the person of the Lord Jesus which reflects in my time, finances, relationships and yes, my songs (see Ps 95:1-2). Authentic worship stems from seeing God as one full of worth and precious like no other.

Lord help us to be the kind of worshipers whom You seek, who worship You in spirit and in truth- because You are worth it!


Michael serves as an Elder in Joshua Generation Church where he teaches the Bible, pastors people and is actively involved in theological writing and training. You can follow him on Facebook or check out his personal blog.

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