By Ps Tan Hui Ru
One of John Piper’s more famous quotes is “Missions exist because worship doesn’t” — his point is that we proclaim God’s name to all nations so that God will be worshipped by all nations. But what is worship? And how would you explain to a non-Christian friend or family member what worship is? Worship is a term so familiar to us that we seldom think about what it actually means. It’s shorthand for us and it refers to our Sunday services, or to the singing in the Sunday services. But is that what worship is?
It may seem odd to us, but the truth is our Sunday services are strange to non-Christians. At first glance, the service makes no sense. Singing and listening to what can be seen as a lecture — how is this worship? Where is the veneration, the bowing down, the making clear that we are not in any way equal to the God we are worshipping? How does all of this fit into worship, into recognising who God is, and recognising Him as more valuable than anything else in or out of Creation?
In recent months, we have spoken of the importance of worship, and the importance of gathering together as an embodied Body of Christ for worship. But perhaps we aren’t even starting with the same concept of worship. When we gather as a Body of Christ to worship on Sunday in a worship service, what are we doing? We are not here simply to learn from a lecture and take down lecture notes on how we are to live. Neither are we here to sing songs that remind us that we are Christian, regardless of their speed and style. We are not here to feel good about ourselves. We are here to praise God, to recognise who God is, to fling ourselves at His feet. We are here to ask God to align ourselves to Him, and not just ourselves as individuals but ourselves as a community. That’s our starting point. We are not here on Sunday primarily to learn but to worship.
And worship is not limited to Sunday worship services (or services on any day). God is God every day and every moment, and He is worthy of worship, worthy of being recognised as God in every day and every moment. Worship is about God, it is not about us. And for our part, we proclaim God’s Word, we take part in God’s mission, not simply so that the world can learn about God, but so that the world will worship God.