As a pastor and church planter, I frequently come across church "core values." These core values are supposed to comprise the identity and vision of a church. Many churches include "worship" as a core value. Should worship be a core value? In referring to worship, we often mean Christian gatherings to praise and exalt God with songs and instruments. But what of the non-Christians who worship? Isn’t worship a core value for them too?
All men are worshippers, people who centre their lives on something—family, career, environment, entertainment, politics, citizenship, morality, sexual orientation, power, and so on. You might say, “I don’t worship anything.” But the reality is that there are things that exercise control and influence over our emotions and decisions. Whether we pick one or several things to focus our time, money, and creativity on, those things become what we worship. They dictate the everyday decisions of our lives. They control how much money/time/energy we spend, where and how and for what reasons we spend it. The question, then, is not “Am I a worshipper?” but “What do I worship?” Worship is more than a core value; it is an all-encompassing reality that orders all other values.
Fortunately, God calls us to personal soul-satisfying worship, not to impersonal devotion to stuff. He calls us to satisfy our infinite desire for joy and community by delighting in God-centered worship. As God Jesus calls us to worship God by the Spirit (Jn 4:23). As the way the truth and the life, worship is Jesus-centered. Just as all truth is trinitarian truth, all worship is trinitarian worship which ultimately coheres in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:15; 14:6). As the way (pattern), the truth (reliable purpose) and the life (power) for worshipful living, Jesus demands our delight and praise. Worship is not optional; it is essential.
As a result, there is no way to know the triune God apart from Jesus Christ. All things are created, sustained, redeemed and renewed in, through, and for Christ. God in Christ is the beginning, middle and end of the grand Story called life. The biggest lie we have believed is that life is a story about ourselves, which diminishes our joy and his glory. Our lives and others lives are part of a much bigger story, the story of God’s glory.
Therefore, the triune God is the object of our worship—in song, sermons, community, culture and work. By gathering together regularly to worship Christ in community, we seek to exalt Him for his glory, grace, and goodness, reminding one another of the centrality of Jesus Christ in all things. We express in song, what we say in all of life: There is none like you, O Lord! All things are in, through, and for Jesus Christ. Worship is more than a core value; it is a way of life.
(c) Jonathan Dodson