How would you define worship?
It is common for people – especially people of faith – to speak of human beings as creatures that were made to worship (as some hymns proclaim). Many anthropological studies have shown that every human culture has had worshipping rituals that they held dear.
If this is true, then worship flows through every part of who we are and what we do. Every word, thought, action, value and interaction is an outflow of our worship. So, we do not have to ask if people worship, we only have to ask what and how they worship. To answer these questions, we need to understand what worship is.
The word ‘worship’ relates to that which we value most highly, which directs our values and behaviour, which forms our identity, which gives us meaning, and which is the frame of reference for our lives. Whatever does this for us – be it person, object, ideal, activity or ‘higher power’ – is what we worship.
From a Christian perspective, worship is concerned with intimacy with God. The Scriptures use sexual language for our relationship with God (1 Corinthians 6:16,17; Ephesians 5:31,32). I believe the reason for this is that the sexual union, when shared selflessly and wholeheartedly, is the deepest intimacy two people can know. In the same way, the worship union, when shared selflessly and wholeheartedly, is the deepest intimacy we can ever know with God.
Intimacy changes us. Intimate partners begin to think the same thoughts, hold the same values, speak the same words and act in the same ways. Intimacy really does make two into one. So, when we enjoy intimacy with God, we are changed. As Paul wrote, we begin reflect God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), we begin to think, speak and act like Christ and we adopt God’s values and purposes.