Summary: Worshiping God is not just a personal experience. You can gather together with other disciples of Jesus, and it enhances worship both for you and for the whole body of Christ.
In my last post, I talked about how to live in a faith community as a disciple of Jesus. In this post, I described the beautiful practice of worshiping God together.
You see it on TV all the time. Maybe you have done it yourself. Multitudes of crowds enter arenas and stadiums across the world. The home team feeds off the cheering from the crowd. It’s not the same as sitting at home and watching the game on TV. There’s something about a bunch of people getting together and cheering for their team.
This experience pales in comparison to gathering as a community of faith in Jesus and lifting His name high. Corporate worship is a powerful way to worship Jesus. Every disciple of Jesus enjoys the call to lift Him high together. There are many ways worshiping God with others is so much better than worshiping Him alone. Let’s get started.
Worshiping God Personally
Worship starts with you personally. If you do not know, or cannot learn, how to worship God on your own, you will have a lot of trouble worshiping Him with other saints and in heaven. You need to find ways to worship God on your own.
I find some parts of Scripture helpful to give me a starting point for my worship. The Psalms, parts of the New Testament letters, and some of the book of Revelation can give you a head start. Listening to worship music will also do that. Before you enlist these helps, see how far you can get on your own.
The simple fact is that we are commanded to worship God in the Bible. Just take the last Psalm (Psalm 150). It tells you to praise the Lord with all kinds of instruments, and that everything that has breath needs to praise Him. Everything we think, say, and do should glorify God. That’s a tall order even for the most mature disciple of Jesus. But we should aspire to worship Him in everything.
I start with thinking about how God has blessed me, helped me in my need, or what He has shown me of Himself. This way, worship is personalized to me. If that does not help me worship God, I turn to the Scriptures I have mentioned. They show you how to worship God and provide examples of worship to Him.
Every disciple of Jesus must realize that God made you to worship Him. You will be doing it for all eternity in heaven. It’s good to learn how to do it now. You don’t have to worship God only when He does big things in your life. I think it’s easier to worship Him during those times. Think of all the little things, the mundane things that happen in life every day. Those are just as much a reason to worship God and praise Him as the big things we easily recognize.
Supercharging Your Worship
Once you have begun to get a handle on how to worship God on your own, you can supercharge your worship with others. There’s nothing like being in a group of believers who are worshiping God with their whole being. Some of my fondest memories are when I was at youth convention with tens of thousands of Christians worshiping God.
Whether it’s in a big crowd or a group of people at church, worshiping with other people sometimes seems easier. The music and lyrics give you a starter for your worship. The people around you with their enthusiasm and how they worship God show you different ways to worship. I love to see people clapping, raising their hands, bowing in worship, and dancing.
You may get in a rut in your personal worship time. You may start to say the same things, use the same postures, or just get used to the same old things. Seeing other people worship around you, if nothing else, gives you ideas on how you can enhance your worship. Peer pressure works both ways. When you see other people worshiping God in ways you are not used to doing, no one will look at you strangely if you do what they are doing.
These are not the only reason we worship God together, but they can be helpful to us. If you are a new disciple of Jesus, corporate worship can be very helpful in teaching you how to worship God. Don’t let yourself get lost in the crowd or step back from worship in a corporate setting. Worshiping with others doesn’t excuse you from offering your worship to God when you are with others.
The Power and Beauty of Corporate Worship
There’s something powerful about worshiping God together. Many voices lifted, hands raised, and people speaking to God and singing to Him altogether brings much praise and glory to Him. When we worship together, we can make Jesus’s name that much greater. The sheer volume and differences in worship styles is something to behold.
Jesus is in the midst of two or three people glorifying Him, but how much more is He glorified in a host of people lifting His name high! He hears everyone when they worship Him. It makes me glad to see many people worshiping Jesus together. You can see you are not alone in your worship when you are with others.
It’s a beautiful sight to see many people gathered to worship the Lord. Think of all the different cultures represented. See how various cultures and nationalities worship the Lord in a way different from your own. One things for sure, there are as many different ways to worship God as there are cultures. I love being in a multicultural setting and seeing how others worship. It just proves this side of heaven that every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus (Romans 14:11).
A Springboard into Deeper Worship
Watch everyone around you. Some people will be reserved in their worship, although that does not mean that they are not as deeply involved in worship as the person you see dancing in the aisle. Some people quietly worship while others “let it fly.”
Sometimes the worship leader will instruct everyone on what to do at times during corporate worship. At first, this annoyed me. I did not want to let someone else tell me how to worship God. However, when you are in a corporate setting, the instruction is not to tell you what to do as much as it is to unite with other disciples and praise God in the same way.
It shows unity in worship rather than demands you do what everyone else is doing. This is where you can learn to worship God in the ways others are worshiping Him. I have found that when the worship leaders direct people to worship God the same way, it is always a biblical expression of worship.
Worshiping together gives you a springboard into deeper worship. You may try something new that feels just right to you and fits your style and personality in worship. I used to read all the time about bowing before the Lord, and even prostrating myself before the Lord. But I never thought to try it until I saw others doing it. Now, it is an expression of worship that I can do comfortably.
As a quadriplegic, I often find myself closing my eyes and seeing myself do what my heart wants me to do. I have sometimes asked my parents to lift my hands in worship. You don’t have to be limited in your worship unless you limit yourself. These new postures and ways of worshiping you were unfamiliar with may give you a deeper experience of God’s presence.
A Taste of Heaven
It’s clear from Scripture, especially Revelation, that you will not go to heaven and worship God in a corner by yourself. Every depiction of heavenly worship is corporate. That doesn’t mean you will not worship with other saints and not have personalized worship. It just means we won’t be doing it all by ourselves.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that worshiping corporately in heaven will be that great. Let’s face it. When you are worshiping God and the guy behind you sings, clearly demonstrating he is tone deaf, and people who are late to worship are talking loudly in the back, it’s hard to worship with others. But heaven will not be like that.
Worshiping God together is a glimpse of the glorious nature of one reason God made us. It will be wonderful to behold God in His full glory. You will not be able to remain silent. Every once in a while, I am part of a worship service where the Holy Spirit joins everyone together to sing the same song without being told or led by the worship team. There’s nothing like it! Won’t it be incredible for that to happen for all eternity?
Stretch yourself in worship when you are among other disciples of Jesus. Let them show you a new way to glorify Him. When you think of all Jesus has done for you, let your response in worship equal your gratitude and love for Him.
We have talked about the beauty of worshiping God together and how necessary it is as a formative practice for disciples of Jesus. Next we will close out our miniseries on being Formed in the Body of Christ by discussing how to grow in your character and values.