Their worship of me is pointless, because their teachings are rules made by humans.’ . . . He added, “You have no trouble rejecting the commandments of God in order to keep your own traditions! . . Because of your traditions you have destroyed the authority of God’s word. Mark 7
I love this God’s Word translation of this passage from Mark 7.
We read this selection from Mark 7 all the time when we study the Bible with people, so I almost wanted to skip over it in my study of Mark. But as I’ve looked at it, my heart has been struck by how much God wants us to do things by HIS blueprint, and not put our own spin on things.
It’s important that we dig into the Bible and seek out what God’s blueprint is.
So I started to look at what God intends for worship to be. I read a great article by Michael Morrison that gave me perspective.
Morrison said, “The English word “worship” comes from two Old English words: weorth, which means “worth,” and scipe or ship, which means something like shape or “quality.” So worth-ship is the quality of having worth or of being worthy. When we worship, we are saying that God has worth, that he is worthy. . . . We speak, or sing, about how good and powerful God is.”
We know from Romans 12:1 that we give our whole life in worship to God — “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”
Thus, everything about our life needs to be about worship, DECLARING that God has supreme WORTH. Everything we do needs to shout out that God is awesome, we will put Him first.
Our purpose is to praise Him: “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” I Peter 2:9
In what specific ways did the people of the Bible worship God?
In the early days, they sacrificed to him. Morrison pointed out that the patriarchs didn’t have many rules to follow in sacrifice, but one concept was very important — the commandment that they shall put no gods before GOD. It has always been that God is to be shown the most worthy.
At the time of Moses they were given many more specifics about how to worship God, but the most important part was this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut 6:6-7
Worship for God was loving Him with every bit of your being. EVERYTHING was to be about God. Nothing came ahead of Him.
And the Word of God also became an important part of worship. You were to teach it to your children in all sorts of ways.
In New Testament times we see in Acts 2 the example of the first church worshiping:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
- The Word
It’s pretty cool that there is SO MUCH here that is relational. The believers spend tons of time together. They share possessions. They give up their stuff to help each other. They eat together.
It looks like a LARGE part of worship is ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT with our brothers and sisters!
And I think this extends to everyone, not just believers. We are not just to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, but also love our neighbor as ourselves. Think of the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10. And remember what Jesus said in Matt. 25:40. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In the end, worship is like everything else in Christian life — it’s really about the HEART.
We want to make it about what we DO. And we come up with all kinds of ways to DO more, put our own spin on things, just like the Pharisees did in Mark 7. We have jam packed worship services with electronic music and multi-media. We read books, and attend seminars and small groups. And I’m not saying any of these things are wrong, they can be good.
But worship is an attitude. It is a face constantly turned towards God, a heart at praise, a mind fixed on Him, a soul overflowing.
Worship erupts into our daily life. As day after day the sky pours forth speech (Ps 19:2), our actions pour forth the speech that God is awesome, He is alive, He cares deeply and faithfully for us. We say it with our joy and hope. We say it with our other centered deeds. We say it when we deny self. We say it when we persevere.
And of course, we proclaim it full force when we sing! That’s a vital area of worship. “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” Eph 5:19
God’s blueprint for worship is that our lives declare that HE is the ONE, the only way. Everything in us yearns to find fulfillment, meaning, purpose. It’s so easy to let the things around us fill this need — our loved ones, our job, our leisure pursuits. And yet if we do this, we at some point find ourselves empty, disillusioned, dysfunctional.
It is ONLY GOD who can meet our deepest needs, and show us how life is designed to be lived, and how we should go forward.
And when we acknowledge this, when we throw up the white flag of surrender and prostrate ourselves before God as the ONE AND ONLY, that is worship.