The term “worship” might be a word greatly misunderstood for some people. It’s almost like the humorous illustration I found …
Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then lord chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, “Neil!” Not daring to question or disobey the “command,” the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees!
Just as the people misunderstood “Neil” for “kneel” so, so many misunderstand “worship” to be on a Sunday in a church service … only. Yet worship is to be a 24 / 7 attitude of the heart. It is also true that many people worship that which is other than God. There are many idols worshipped such as clothing, houses, motorcars, people, money, possessions and image just to name a few. By worship I am talking about an active daily lifestyle in all of life because Jesus is Lord of my life. Consider …
1) The qualifications for worship. Not all people offering worship in a church or Christian environment qualify to worship God. That might sound terribly condemnatory or even arrogant because some might think God receives and accepts anyone and everyone who offers Him worship … however, consider the following Scripture carefully:
1Pe 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’” 8 and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Look at verse 4 … You come to (or have come to) the Living Stone (Jesus Christ). He is Jesus, the one who was rejected by men (Jews) yet chosen by God and is precious to God. You come to Jesus meaning you come to the source of salvation. In the Gospels we read of how he was rejected. Peter even speaks at Pentecost about how the Jews rejected Jesus … even killing Him on a Cross. “You come to Jesus” means you come in faith to the rejected one because you believe He is the Messiah. Now that you (you = plural … many) have come to Him for salvation, you are being shaped into a spiritual house … an uncountable body … for the purpose of being a “holy priesthood”. When you think of the Levitical Priesthood’s function of leading the worship of God through offering animal sacrifices to appease God’s wrath against sin, a “holy priesthood” is spiritual and the offerings are spiritual … which are acceptable to God. The animal sacrifices were rejected because true worship was lost as the very priesthood decayed into works without faith. The holy priesthood are those who “trust” in Jesus (v6) and “believe” in Jesus (v7). As glorious as this news is about believers being a holy priesthood … living stones … offering actable sacrifices (worship and praise), there are those “who do not believe” (see v7 & v8). These would have been amongst those who were sacrificing priests and those bringing their offerings.
Their worship was rejected because their hearts were not united with God in faith whilst the other group’s (the royal priesthood) worship was accepted and received because they are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (v9). Their praise (worship) is required (you may declare v9) because it is associated with salvation (v9-10). What I have tried to show above is that true worship is only possible if you are a true Child of God, called out of the world and into the glorious protection of God’s eternal family because you are trusting His Blood sacrifice for salvation. Once you do, your whole life transforms into a life or praise and worship. A daily exercise of thanksgiving to God for whom He is and for what He has done for you at Calvary and is doing for you daily. A life of worship and praise is life’s response to “grace”. Now compare this with many who go through rituals, be it daily or on Sundays. Rituals are related to seeking to appease God. They are offered by dead souls not living stones. They are trying to do something that will make themselves right with God and cannot see the Gospel’s message is that Jesus Christ did whatever was needed to make one right with God. That is why it’s called “grace” and that is why not all who offer worship offer it correctly. Not all worship is received by God, only that which is clothed in and because of the Blood of Jesus. Take a step backwards and ask yourself whether your worship and praise is acceptable to God. Ask whether it is based upon the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. Ask whether your worship and praise is because of a grateful heart thanking God for what He has done or whether it is seeking to work your way into God’s good book. You see, as we spend a few days considering worship and praise, remember we start with the qualifications to worship. Only those who are born again by God’s Spirit are His Children and only His Children may worship Him because such worship is done in spirit and in truth. Everything offered based upon works is rejected. Friend, do the spiritual analysis by asking … “Is my worship and praise of God a lifestyle coming from a truly thankful heart for God’s grace, mercy and kindness in saving my soul, taking me out of spiritual darkness and death and making me alive with Christ to be living stone in God’s forever family?”
Dear God of salvation, I come today to express my gratitude for the great salvation I enjoy because of Jesus’ blood stained Cross. Salvation is all of grace and my response is a life of worship, praise and adoration. Amen.