What is Worship?

Mark Driscoll

Worship, rightly understood, begins with the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of Image. In his magnificent book on worship, Harold Best describes the Trinity as the uniquely Continuous Outpourer who continually pours himself out between the persons of the Godhead in unceasing communication, love, friendship, and joy. It follows that humans created in God’s image would also be unceasing worshipers as continuous outpourers. Best says,

    We were created continuously outpouring. Note that I did not say we were created to be continuous outpourers. Nor can I dare imply that we were created to worship. This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself. It might not even be safe to say that we were created for worship, because the inference can be drawn that worship is a capacity that can be separated out and eventually relegated to one of several categories of being. I believe it is strategically important, therefore, to say that we were created continuously outpouring—we were created in that condition, at that instant, imago Dei.

Worship is the core of who we are

Indeed, worship is not merely an aspect of our being, but the essence of our being as God’s image-bearers. As a result, all of life is ceaseless worship. Practically, this means that while worship does include corporate church meetings, singing songs, and liturgical forms, it is not limited by these things, defined solely as these things, or expressed only in these things because worship never stops. Rather, we are continually giving ourselves away or pouring ourselves out for a person, cause, experience, achievement, or status. Sadly, as the doctrine of the fall reveals, much of how we pour ourselves out and what we pour ourselves into in worship is someone or something other than the Trinitarian Creator God.

You are always worshiping

As the doctrine of image reveals, human beings are unceasing worshipers. We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, and everyone in between are unceasing worshipers. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, is always worshiping. While the object and method of worship varies, the act of worship does not.

Worship is continuous

Best synthesizes his thoughts on worship saying, “I have worked out a definition for worship that I believe covers every possible human condition. It is this: Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god.”

All of life is ceaseless worship.    

One of the more insightful sections of Scripture on worship is Hebrews 13:15–17, which says,

    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. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Worship is

In this post we see that worship includes:

  1. Praise 
  2. Proclamation (lips that confess his name) 
  3. Service (do good as a demonstration of the gospel to the world) 
  4. Participation (share with others as a demonstration of grace to the world) 
  5. Sacrifice (giving of time talent and treasure)
  6. Submission (respecting godly authority placed over you so as to grow in wisdom and holiness)



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