Lights. Smoke Machines. Multitracks. Flawless transitions.
Choirs. Hymns. No instruments.
Drum circles. Chanting. Dancing.
Silence. Solitude. Internal affection for God.
Human beings have been attempting to express our love for and experience of God for as long as we've been around, and the various expressions of worship are as wide and varied as human cultures themselves. The question is, which expressions of worship are pleasing to God?
I remember my Dad saying "You can worship God by sweeping the floor" and I never understood him. Doesn't worship mean slow songs about Jesus that we sing in church? The praise songs are the fast ones, the worship ones are the slow ones, right?
He was intentionally stretching me to expand my view of what counts as worship to include any activity which places appropriate worth on the person of Christ.
If you are sweeping the floor out of love for God and others, it absolutely counts as worship.
If you are watching a sunrise in silence as it leaves you speechless, it absolutely counts as worship.
If you are blasting contemporary worship music at 90+dB and singing with a crowd at church, it can absolutely count as worship.
What's interesting is that these various external forms, physical labor, silence, and loud music can all be expressions of worship, but it's not hard to imagine each of these things being done in a way that wouldn't count as worship, right?
I can imagine playing loud music with a congregation that really digs loud music but doesn't give Christ a second thought. It's an entertaining show.
I can imagine sitting in silence, watching a sunset, and spending the whole time internally replaying an argument in my head that I had earlier that day.
I can imagine pushing a broom with passive aggression to try to hurt another person while looking like a good guy on the outside.
The difference then, I think, is what's going on in the heart.
True worship is a posture of the heart in which the heart becomes directed at the One who created it, all while holding a spirit of wonder, gratitude, and humility.
Worship isn't just an event. It's not just slow songs. It's a turning of one's attention to the God who holds us. There are infinitely many ways this kind of gratitude and affection can be expressed and I think each of them is equally valid and pleasing to God.
For more on this, check out the episode of the podcast on worship and join in the conversation!