What Does Your Worship Say About God?

If an outsider came into your Sunday meeting and observed you worshiping, what would he conclude you think about God? 

Does your expression of worship say how great and glorious, delightful and exciting you think God is? Does your worship say you’ve found God to be faithful and good, loving and satisfying?  Would an outsider conclude you believe God to be real and present?

Or does your worship say you find God about as exciting as an exam on protein chains (maybe you bio majors would get excited about this – I wouldn’t).  Do you sing with all the enthusiasm of someone who has just been asked to shovel 2 tons of manure?  Does your worship say you believe God is distant and uncaring?

What does our worship say about what God did for us? Do we sing like those who have been redeemed eternally from the wrath of God? Like those who have been seated with Christ in heavenly places? Like those who are grateful to have every sin wiped away? Do we rejoice like those who have the king of the universe living inside them?

We should worship God expressively, not for a show or to impress others, but as a way of saying to him how much we love him. That we consider him to be infinitely great and glorious and majestic. That we consider him to be praiseworthy.

Worship is primarily an issue of the heart. So someone could worship God wholeheartedly and not show it on the outside. But I like what I once heard John Piper say – worship begins in the heart but should not stay there.  It should be expressed.

Our glad hearts should overflow with thanks for all God did for us in Christ.  Hey, Jesus DIED for us. He was tortured, spit on, mocked, pierced, so that we could be with and enjoy God for ever and ever.  Essentially, Jesus went to hell so that we don’t have to.  Isn’t that worth getting excited about?

We should worship like rich people! Because we are. We’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Christ! We should sing with more enthusiasm than if we just found out we won the lottery.

We should sing like those who know God is working all things for good in our lives. Like those who are being transformed into the very image of Christ. Like those who will worship around the throne for eternity.

God has designed us to express delight in things excellent and beautiful. We gush when we see a glorious sunset. We clap and shout at Coldplay concerts and Steeler games (well, maybe not if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan). We give standing ovations for outstanding accomplishments.  Our cheers show what we think of that diving catch or that guitar solo.

Again, our worship isn’t some kind of performance we put on for others. Our worship is for God.  But it says something about what we think about him.

This Sunday let’s show God what we think of him and sing the roofs off our church buildings.

Comments

  1. Elaine says

    Love to sing loud – much to the embarressment of my children! It's always one of the first things I noticed about the man who would become my husband – he sang loud as though he could care less what others thought. He just loves the Lord.

    Seriously, I'm always reminded of the quote, "She loves much because she has been forgiven much." That about sums it up for me.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      And the Lord loves loud singing, Elaine! Even if it's only a joyful noise. i love that scripture about loving much.

  2. cornell says

    What a sad irony it is, that we would be so self-conscious, self-restrained and reserved during corporate worship – the one place where we should expect everyone to understand, relate to, and join in our expressiveness. Has our relationship with God become a private affair? Are we too proud to lose our "holy composure" and simply embrace the joyful abandon that the Cross evokes in us? May God forgive us. Some of us, the rigid puritans, would do well to pick an "expressive leaf" from charismatic Pentecostals (just saying).

    Thank you for this, Mark.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Very articulate, Cornell. Even as I read your comments I am stirred further to want to worship my God joyfully. Thank you so much for adding these!

  3. says

    Great post, Mark. I agree that we should indeed behave like we are the richest people on the planet, for the eternal treasure that the Lord has placed in jars of clay! Every Sunday I am humbled that I can even play a minute part in leading others in worship, to the One who sings over us loudly! May God forgive me when I care more about people's opinion of my expression of worship than I do about giving my all to Him. May we lead well tomorrow morning!
    Thanks for yet again, another encouraging and convicting post!
    Blessings
    Ron

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hey Ron, your comments are great comments as well – you and Cornell should get together. Both of you stirred me with additional reasons to worship God with joy.

  4. Mike says

    Thanks Mark. Great post. If the Lord God Almighty exults over US with loud singing (Zeph 3:17), how much more should our love for and worship to HIM be demonstrable and visible given all He has done and is still doing for us?

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Excellent Mike! Thanks for adding in Zephaniah 3:17. You are so right – if the Lord exults over us with loud singing how can we not sing with all our hearts? I love that verse.

  5. Rach says

    Saw this blog as a post a friend had shared on Facebook- and what has impressed me more than any other blog on worship (and there are many) is that to every post discussing the blog, the writer has continued as part of his worship of stirring up and writing, to continue to engage with the responsive posts of the 'Body of Christ'. Love it! May we continue to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrew s 10:24)

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Thanks so much, Rach! When I write posts I try to preach to myself, and I definitely need to be stirred up and even at times adjusted by the Body of Christ. Thanks for your encouraging comments!

  6. says

    All good points Mark, but I hope that a visitor to my (or your) local church would pretty soon get the idea that worship is not just about singing. I hope that our congregations are encouraged to worship God in every part of the service, not just when we sing. I know you know that, I just thought it was a point worth making!

  7. says

    I don't agree… I grew up in a stiff and stuffy baptist church with plenty of authentic worshipers. They have different cultural (and sometimes) theological values that cause them to express that worship in a different way. Their worship may be less expressive but that doesn't mean that it is any less authentic. And it certainly doesn't mean that they are any less affectionate. I was at TGC New England conference this past weekend. Most people were stiff as a board (it's New England) but the singing was thunderous.
    And there was Piper sitting in the front row just as stiff as anyone else… If there's one guy you can't fault for lack of passion it's Piper. I think it's interesting that in your post you note that Piper says, "worship begins in the heart but should not stay there. It should be expressed." But that statement does not qualify what that expression should look like. Maybe we shouldn't either.

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Hey Dan, I agree with your basic point. We can't judge someone's heart by their outward expression of worship. But there are plenty of calls in scripture for us to do things like shout to the Lord, clap our hands, make a joyful noise, lift our hands, etc. If the worship was "thunderous" I would say it probably was pretty enthusiastic. Anyway, I do agree with you that less expressive worship doesn't mean that it is any less authentic. Thanks for adding your comments!

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