I often read or hear a servant of Christ insist that worship is “more than singing.” We are frequently told that making a meal for your family or cleaning your car or helping your neighbor are all acts of worship. When these acts are the outgrowth of our love for God and are done to demonstrate that love, I would agree that they are “worshipful,” but technically they are not worship. I’m not seeking to parse meaning with undue rigor, but we need to be precise in our definitions if we want to accurately embrace the very purpose for our existence. Worship is the actual act of ascribing worth directly to God. Worshipful actions may do this indirectly, but when the Bible commands and commends worship as our highest expression, it is not talking about anything other than direct, intentional, Vertical outpouring of adoration. While that does not have to be put to music, it does have to be direct and not indirect to rise above the “worshipful” and actually ascribe worth to God. First Chronicles 16, Psalm 29, and Psalm 96 define worship with surgical precision: “Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name” (Psalm 29:1–2). Worship is mind, emotions, and will engaged in whole-person ascription of worth.
Nothing brings glory down in church as quickly and as powerfully as when God’s people unashamedly adore God’s great Son, Jesus Christ. Not just a few enthusiasts in the front row when the service starts but a room packed to the walls with fired-up Christians. Not testimony to personal benefit resulting from gospel belief, but ascription of worth to the God of the gospel. When that happens, an unbeliever coming in will “worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:25). A whole body of believers worshipping with their whole beings can expect to get the only thing we have to offer this world: “Is it not in [God’s] going with us … that we are distinct … from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16). All church activities that dilute, diminish, or detract from worship destroy Verticality, deny the priority of doxology, and forfeit what Vertical Church is all about—glory. … (more…)