Worship is such a core function in the faith life of a Jesus follower. I thought it would be great if someone who’s in the front-line of Worship ministry to write on the topic. Here is my good friend – Roshan Jonas sharing his heart on Worship. Roshan currently serves as the associate worship pastor and youth pastor at All Peoples Church, Bangalore. He was part of the Christian band ‘Living Waters’ serving as a drummer and vocals (2005-2014) ministering in different parts of the country. He is a close friend, my youth pastor and leader to many. On that note, here is his heart on the topic…
If numerous books and articles on worship weren’t already enough, here is another one. I hope this blog blesses your heart and rekindles the fire of authentic and extravagant worship. Let’s dive straight in.
There has been an explosion of the “worship” movement in the last two decades. One of the greatest songs of the last decade that has revolutionized this movement was “How great is our God” by Chris Tomlin.
Amongst the thousands of worship songs, hundreds of books and articles on worship, with bachelors and even masters degrees in worship, our generation of Christians has spoken more about worship than any other topic. It’s like that is our favourite topic or thing to do in Christian circles.
However, somewhere in this amazing journey we have lost the wonder of Jesus, forgotten the God of worship, only to end up worshipping “worship” itself. And in this process, we have gone on to worship the lights, stage, music, musicians, worship leaders, leaders, singers, songwriters, and so on, you get the idea.
So… What is Worship exactly?
Why is it such a big deal? What makes worship so powerful? Perhaps, a few definitions might help…
Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) once said, “Every definition is dangerous.” This might explain why when we try to define a word we often end up missing significant aspects of the word we are defining. We end up limiting its scope and significance. Attempts at explaining worship as “love,” or “intimacy,” or “relationship” says something true and right, but end up leaving out more than they contribute to our understanding of worship.
“Acknowledging that someone or something else is greater – worth more – and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared, and adored…Worship is the sign that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it.” (Harold Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, p. 143)
Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does. (Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship, p. 26)
David Peterson, in his wonderful book Engaging with God, unpacks an insightful definition: “Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible. (Engaging with God, p. 20).
Like I said, there is a lot of information on worship already out there.
To me, Worship is a way of life…
It is doing all things as though doing them for God. Worship is cleaning toilets and changing diapers. Worship is feeding the poor and caring for the widows and orphans. Worship can be an act set aside in our alone time and can also be an act done together in communities. Worship is obeying God and keeping his commands. Worship is loving one another in the same way that God loves us. Worship is changing our priorities to what God would have us do.
Worship is a Posture
Google defines posture (noun) as “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.” It goes on to say, “a particular way of dealing with or considering something; an approach or attitude.”
There is good posture and bad posture. I hurt my lower back for six months while playing drums as my “posture” was not right for a while.
If a young man wants to propose to the love of his life, he gets down on one knee, and when he does it on two knees, he’s messed up big time and needs to apologize.
When your team scores, you jump in the air, pump your fists, and shout as loudly as you can. When the referee makes a bad call, you throw your hands up in frustration and boo vigorously. Your heart is caught up in the experience of the moment, which causes your body to respond outwardly.
Romans 12:1 says – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (NIV)
Hebrew originally was a pictorial language. The image or picture for worship was bowing down with your face pressed to the ground. Every word that describes worship in the Bible describes a particular posture of the body. One of which is BARAK, which means “to kneel” or “to bow low.”
Psalms 95:6 reads – Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
Let’s look at Romans 12:1, talks about being a living sacrifice. Think about the posture of something that is about to be sacrificed. It is laid down, in total surrender, absolute humility, complete brokenness.
Satan understood and knew the power of this posture in worship. He wanted the worship God was getting; he became arrogant and his heart was filled with pride. He even tempted Jesus to BOW (Barak) before him in worship.
In Daniel chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow before a false god. I am sure you know the story…
While posture is important, I must categorically state that worship posture is not the same in every situation. Context matters. Expressive worship of God may take the form of dancing (like David danced), could take the form of singing loudly amidst hardships (like Paul & Silas sang), or even take the form of lifting our hands up high in adoration, surrender, and awe.
In saying this, one must also remember that failure to do any or all of this does not constitute lack of worship (paying attention to challenges that People with Disabilities experience could change and broaden our perspectives). And certainly there are moments when we should be still in silence before the Lord – even this is a posture of worship.
Our response to an encounter with God reveals the condition of our hearts. And we see it unfold in the book of Revelation chapters 4 and 5. What do the angels and the elders do? They fall down in the Presence of God…
As a worship leader representing diverse communities of worship around the world, I want to personally apologize for complicating worship.
Worship or the posture of worship is simple, it is as I mentioned before total surrender, absolute humility, and complete brokenness before our Lord.
God wants Us
God wants our hearts, not just our pseudo smiles, raised arms or our bent knees. He wants more than just our shouts or our songs. He wants more than just our theological intellect.
In Isaiah 29:13 we read, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (NIV)
John 4:23-24 says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (NIV)
It is interesting to notice that the Father is not seeking worship but rather true worshippers. The difference is quite significant.
Let us strive to live in a posture that is always in the wonder of the one who is full of Wonder. My desire is to see our generation immersed in true worship to our heavenly father.
I want to thank Sam for trusting me with this piece and giving me this honour of speaking into people’ lives. May God shake the nations as you continue to write.
About the writer – Roshan Jonas
Roshan serves full-time as the associate worship pastor and youth pastor at All Peoples Church, Bangalore. With 4 years of work experience in the corporate sector, Roshan pursued and completed BA Music from The Bangalore Conservatory, with Church Music Leadership as his major and taught music and worship for 5 years in the same college. He is passionate about young people and desires to see his generation worship God in Spirit & Truth.
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– Sam D. Mathews