I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook wall the other day. There was a discussion about worship styles (traditional vs. contemporary) and someone made the statement, “Well, who are you to say what is worship and what isn’t?” I can’t get that out of my mind.
The person making the statement was implying (I believe) that there is no objective standard by which to determine what is, or is not, proper worship. That is simply not true. On the other hand, WE as mere humans are NOT that plumb line. The scripture says “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth.” (John 4:24)

What is True Worship?

True worship must be intellectual. We must love our God with all of our minds (Luke 10:27). It should not be shallow or meaningless repetition (Matthew 6:7), but should be directed to God, and must reflect accurately who He is and what He has done.

True worship must be Christ-centered. There is no other name that has been given under heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Apart from the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the totality of life, all worship is devoid of purpose.

True worship must be heart-felt. We should not fall into the trap of going through the motions in an attempt to psych ourselves up emotionally, or trying to impress God with our stalwart devotion. We are to LOVE God with ALL of our heart (Luke 10:27).

Worship is not about what we like. It is not about style. It is about worshiping God in the way that He wants to be worshiped. Worship is about giving all that we are, for all that He is. Worship should not be a narcissistic expression of us and how great we are. In worship (which is much more than just music or singing), we should respond to God out of a heart of gratitude for how great He is, and for what He has done for us.

While we cannot help but express our thankfulness to God in culturally diverse ways (we are, in fact, culturally diverse), true worship is ultimately not about culture, or Art, or expressions of talent (although these factors are sometimes involved). Worship is about the God who is there. It is about knowing Him, and being known by Him.

Worship should never be divorced from sound theology. Worship should not be divorced from church history. Worship should never be about preference and style, and most importantly, worship must NEVER be about us.

Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker and Director of Family Renewal, LLC.