It’s Not You, It’s Me
“It’s not you, it’s me.” There’s that cliché line that no one in their right mind wants to hear. Now, imagine hearing this from God. *awkward*
Take a minute or two, and think about your worship. What is worship, and what does it mean to worship? Is it singing? Thanking God for His blessings? Is it dancing or shouting? While we can quote verse after verse of our basic doctrines, sometimes the simplest biblical principles slip through our understanding. Unfortunately, the meaning of worship may be one of those vital concepts.
In her book, Teaching Kids Authentic Worship, Kathleen Chapman says, “The true definition of worship has nothing to do with denomination or specific church preference. It doesn’t stipulate that you stand with arms raised or kneel on a prayer bench. It doesn’t discriminate about the day or time. Most important, the age of the worshipper is inconsequential. God simply demands and expects worship.”
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).
It’s clear that worship is a command. God not only commands it, but He expects it. According to John 4:23, God is seeking true worshippers. Since we know that God commands us to worship Him and is searching for authentic adoration, it is important to know what the biblical definition of worship is so we can offer the genuine affection our God mandates.
This topic may be unintentionally overlooked but can undoubtedly take a tragic toll on the way we see and practice worship. If we do not know what true worship is, how can we offer it to God? The tragedy of misunderstanding worship is seen by the observation Christian author and pastor, Kent Hughes, as he states “the unspoken, but increasingly common assumption of today’s Christendom is that worship is primarily for us—to meet our needs. Such worship services are entertainment-focused, and the worshipers are uncommitted spectators who silently grade the performance. Taken to the nth degree, this instills a tragic self-centeredness.”
Our postmodern society screams that everything is all about us, but the Bible makes it clear that it is all about God. If we are not careful, we could get wrapped up in this mentality. And how tragic would that be? Because the truth is simple: it’s not about us at all.
In the Old Testament, worship was most commonly translated from a word that means “to prostrate oneself, to bow in homage, to do reverence.” It represents a conscious recognition of who God is. In the New Testament, we find worship translated from a word that means “to do obedience, to do reverence.” In the Old and New Testament, worship means to give reverence to God for who He is—His attributes, person, and character.
The word worship in the English language is derived from an old English root word meaning worth or worthiness. The original meaning was used when indicating the worth of a notable person. Worship must be singular. This may not seem profound to you, but worship must be about one person; it is completely one-sided. It has nothing to do with you or me but everything to do with God. Worship is removing ourselves from the picture and adoring God for who He is: not for what He has done, His many blessings, or even our salvation. Worship is completely and totally about God. Our church attendance, songs, lessons, and conferences are not worship unless all we see is the Almighty God. It is not worship unless it is completely and totally devoted to focusing on Him alone.
The second we bring ourselves into the picture, we are no longer worshipping Him. Thanking God for His provisions and blessings is not worship. Don’t get me wrong, God loves and desires our thankfulness, but He commands our worship. Thankfulness, praise, and love are the outflow of a worshipful life, but they are not worship.
That being said, worship is not limited to a church service activity. A true worshipper enables his or her worship to become a lifestyle. As mentioned before, the word from the New Testament that translates to worship originally means “to do reverence, to do obedience.” Worship results in obedience. Take Abraham for example:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Genesis 22:1-5).
In Genesis chapter 22, Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. God asked for a sacrifice, and out of obedience, Abraham did as he was told. In verse two, God called for a sacrifice, but in verse five—when it came time for Abraham’s obedience—he said “I and the lad will go yonder and worship.” Abraham’s obedience was a byproduct of the lifestyle of worship he had for God.
That couldn’t have been an easy hike up the mountain with every intention of losing his son, especially since Isaac was a promise from God that Abraham waited on for so long. Although the circumstances were bleak, Abraham knew that God was still, and always would be, worthy of worship. And that required obedience. Abraham had to lay himself and his son aside and focus on God’s worth. It wasn’t about Abraham, and it wasn’t about Isaac, but it was all about God.
This is a true example of a worshipful life. What was seen as a sacrifice, Abraham offered as worship to God. How many things in our own lives do we see as huge sacrifices that can actually be a means of worship to God? Sometimes we tend to look at our sacrifice as a sad and mournful thing. Perhaps we should take Abraham’s perspective in our situations of sacrifice and view them as another way for us to worship God. If sacrifice is the word used to describe what Jesus did for us on Calvary, then nothing we can do can be called sacrifice in light of Calvary.
Anything we give for Him will never compare to what He gave for us. He died for us. How can we think of living for Him as a sacrifice? It is definitely a means of worship. When our lives are focused on God and reflect the attributes of His character, we are being obedient to Him and worshipping Him.
As we have seen, worship is a command from God; it is acknowledging that He alone is worthy and following through with obedience to His commands. Worship is placing ourselves aside, stepping out of the picture, and yielding everything to the knowledge of Him. It is understanding that God is still on the throne and is still worthy regardless of what life may hold. He desires our worship.
He wants us to know what it means to truly adore Him simply for who He is. We must keep in mind that worship is not about us but all about Him. God is seeking true worshippers, and that is why He is telling each of us, “It’s not you, it’s Me.” And hopefully, our hearts and lives will reply in adoration, “It’s not me. It’s You, God.”
“…whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
Sarah is the Hyphen contributor for InsideOut. She hails from South Carolina and attends Urshan College in Florissant, Missouri. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.