The Essence of Worship
By Carolyn Litchfield | December 19, 2019
I am happy to share with you what I have been learning over these last few months. I have loved our study in John, being refreshed by his gospel and challenged by Jesus’ teaching, but I have also loved meditating on the four pillars of our church vision that Darin has set forth for us to embrace. I have had some personal growth in regards to understanding what true worship is and how it is lived out.
Based on the teachings of these four pillars of our faith, I understand more clearly that worship is both an inner, authentic, godward experience of the heart as well as an external expression of God’s value and worth. When I have the correct understanding of God’s nature and the right valuing of His holiness then my heart’s response is to worship Him. Acts of love with the body, hands and feet show the worthiness of God by what I am willing to sacrifice for the good of others.
In my earlier years as a believer in Jesus my view of worship consisted of singing hymns and praise songs for 15 minutes before the sermon. Under the mentorship of Howie Stevenson, I was given the opportunity to participate in worship by playing my cello. I began to understand that this act of worship was a way for me to express God’s value and worth.
The creative arts have long been a language of the heart for worshipping God. Over the centuries, paintings, sculpture and music were often directed towards biblical truths and praise and worship.
For me, my heart’s language for worship is cello. However, I struggled with the inherent “performance” mindset being at odds with the desire to keep the focus on Jesus. Jesus and I have had many conversations about this, and over the years He has given me the freedom to understand that He gifts each of us with something that we can give back to Him. When we do, it becomes our unique way of worshipping Him truly and fully from our hearts. I feel His pleasure when I use my gifts to worship Him.
This is our inner essence of worship, that place where we are alone with God, speaking with Him in the language of the heart that comes from the gifts He has given. At the same time, the external worship takes place as others are moved to understand God’s worthiness and respond by using the gifts they have been given. This is such a beautiful picture of how our lives interconnect in a way that glorifies God, honors Jesus and values the work of the Holy Spirit.
As I meditate on and understand that the kingdom of God is, at least in part, here and now and that Jesus wants us to partner with Him in extending the kingdom into our spheres of influence, I am further convinced that the four pillars that we as a church body are implementing are acts of worship that are ushering in the kingdom of God.
Now my heart language is expanding to include acts of worship that are outside the church walls and into the world. I am excited to grow in these areas of demonstrable worship. Radiating peace, showing revolutionary kindness, professing the truth of Christ and being a fragrant aroma that is pleasing to a lost world. In the power of Christ, all of these are possible for me to do as acts of worship.
John Piper has a summary of the heart of worship that I would like to share with you.
“The inner essence of worship is to know God truly and then respond from the heart to that knowledge by valuing God, treasuring God, prizing God, enjoying God, being satisfied with God above all earthly things. And then that deep, restful, joyful satisfaction in God overflows in demonstrable acts of praise from the lips and demonstrable acts of love in serving others for the sake of Christ”