Does God care when, where, or how often we worship him? What is true worship and what is mere socializing? Corporate worship, that is joining together as a body on Sunday morning to worship God through singing and engaging with a sermon, is likely the first type of worship that comes to mind when one thinks of worship. We also corporately worship when we come together in small groups to reflect and discuss the application of the sermon and God’s word. How do we ensure this time on Sunday morning or during small group is producing worship rather than just socializing? There is power when brothers and sisters come together to worship God together, but God makes it clear that we should individually spend time worshipping him in addition to corporate worship. Fortunately, God explains how we can worship him so none of us have to wrestle with when, where, or how often we worship God.
In John 4: 23-24 Jesus explains, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus clearly tells us to worship in spirit and truth. It isn’t one or the other, but it is both together. Jesus tells us that he is Truth, therefore we must know him in order to worship him. To know Jesus is to love and worship Jesus. Worshipping in truth is recognizing His authority, the value of what Jesus has done for you, and having a heart postured to reflect your genuine gratitude. This should expose how you treasure him above all else.
Paul sheds some light of what it means to worship God in spirit in his letter to the Church of Rome. In Romans 12:1 He writes, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” Additionally, the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:15-16, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Both off these passages emphasize our contribution to worship through our sacrifice. By sacrificing our time and attention, we are placing ultimate value on God. Jesus said in Matthew 15:8-9, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Let’s make sure we are not people who worship Jesus through lip service while our hearts treasure created things and people more than the Creator. There is room to worship God through our hearts while also spending time with other Christians. However, if attending church on Sunday or church events such as serving or giving your time in various ways doesn’t lead you to a deeper connection or adoration for God, then you may be only socializing. God created us to be in community, therefore spending time with brothers and sisters in Christ is good and necessary for us to flourish. However, our lives should be aligned in a way that time spent worshipping God takes precedence over spending time with godly people. Do not be misled that serving others or engaging through church events isn’t worship. These are just secondary ways to demonstrate the value God has in our lives by letting his love overflow from your heart to pour into loving and serving others.
So, when should we worship God? All the time (1 Chronicles 23:30, Psalm 42:8, & Psalm 35:28). Our lives should be wrung out for the gospel. If your life is a living sacrifice, your days will be spent sharing Jesus’s truth and love to everyone you encounter. Where should you worship? Everywhere. Sometimes you will worship in private (Matthew 6), and sometimes with others (Colossians 3:16 & Hebrews 10:25).
How should you worship? With all your heart, knowing and loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37 & Deuteronomy 6:5).