“It’s time to start worship!” Words like this are used by worship teams all across the country as they finish praying and head onto the stage where they’ll lead their congregations. They count in the first song, play the first notes, and worship begins.
Except, worship hasn’t just begun. Worship doesn’t live in musical notes, or set lists, or even in church services. Sure, worship can be found in all those things, but it doesn’t begin there. Worship begins in the hidden places inside a person. Worship begins in the heart.
God has often dealt with people on the issue of surface worship. We all have a tendency to place great worth on the things we do for God. That is good. The Bible tells us that faith leads to action, and without action, it’s questionable if we really do believe. We get off track when our relationship with, and worship of God focusses solely on our actions. God is not only concerned with what we do, but why we do it:
Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men…
The truth is that God really desires relationship with you. His passion is to see you understanding His love for you on a relational level. He is not a cosmic boss who demands we put in a certain amount of spiritual hours and work; He is a Father who is heartsick for the return of His children; whose arms are open wide to those who know they need Him. In the safety and shelter of this relationship with God, worship begins. We learn the incredible value of His love for us. We are overwhelmed by the level of care He has for us. We are humbled by the way a Holy God accepts us in our brokenness. We are thankful for the transformation He carefully makes in us.
And worship begins. Praise leaks from our heart while we are driving to work. We become conscious of God’s wisdom when we face a challenge. We cry out to Him when our hearts are sorrowful. We whisper words of thanks when we hold our children. We remember Him when we make decisions. We run to Him in our failure.
And when we step on a stage to lead others, it is not the beginning of worship. It’s simply another moment in a life centered on Him.