I’ve been thinking a lot about worship lately. As I’ve studied and read, I’ve noticed that a lot of what is written about worship relates to the format of corporate worship, music styles and impact on the worshipers While these issues have their place and must be addressed, I believe they must take a back seat to biblical priorities of worship.
We get a glimpse of some of these priorities in the account of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in John 2. The account is a familiar one. When Jesus entered the temple and observed the chaos of animals, merchants and money-changers he became angry and chased the perpetrators from the temple. This simple encounter lends insight into Jesus’ thoughts and feelings about worship.
First, worship must be all about God or it isn’t genuine worship at all. Jesus was angry because the focus of worship had been diverted from God to business and selfish gain. Conducting business in a place of worship was demeaning to the purpose of the temple. It signified that all involved were not truly interested in worship at all. The commercial activities taking place in the court were a sign that true worship had been forsaken and replaced with a religion of convenience, compromise and self-interest.
Second, worship must be done in holiness of heart. As if the distortion of worship was not bad enough, the corrupt nature of the business was also a direct affront to God’s character and holiness. Sinful motivations and behaviors were defiling their worship, even though their actions were orthodox. God’s holiness demands our holiness as we worship. God has continuously pleaded with His people to understand that holy hearts are far more important than ritual acts of worship.
I am challenged as I consider worship in this light that I must be careful not to make myself the center of my concerns about worship. Instead, I want to worship God because His greatness and awesomeness compels me to do so and for no other reason.
Do you have thoughts on worship you would like to share, or some other biblical priorities of worship? If so, I’d love to see them.