An incident from my time in college came to mind this week. One of my classes started at the same time many of the university employees arrived at work. One employee, a middle-aged woman, usually drove by in her minivan as I walked into my class. She was particularly memorable because I she sang in her car every single morning. And this was not just the average sing-along with the music: she was clearly having a good time! Then one day, she drove by with her window down. It was gospel worship music that she was singing along with and beaming with joy! I'm not quite sure what I had expected, but it wasn't that at before eight on a Monday morning!
I have no idea who this lady was, but she left a profound impact on me. In her morning routine, she made the choice to focus her attention on God in an attitude of worship. She did this even when she thought no one was noticing her actions; it was part of her lifestyle. Every time I saw her, this is what she was doing.
The word worship is derived from the old Anglo Saxon term weorthscipe which literally means to ascribe worth to something*. Clearly, God is worth all andworship is how we should respond when we consider what Christ has done for us. It is a natural outpouring of ourselves in the light of our situation. We have been given a priceless gift and our lives are different because of it. Worship is so much more than singing a song in church on Sunday, although that is a crucial part of worship. We are called to minister to each other though "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" in Colossians 3:16. That is collective worship; our worship should be individual as well.
Worship is really a lifestyle, an attitude in which we dwell. Since it is a response to who God is, if we aren't focused on Him, we cannot have it. Conversely, when we are focused on Him, our lives become worship. That is the kind of attitude I'm taking about. It doesn't mean that we have to only go around singing all the time! Everything, from taking out the trash, to serving at church, to comforting a hurting friend, to singing at church can be worship. Worship is basically saying, "God, You are so great and this is all for You."
It is equally important that we do it even when we think no one is watching for this is what character truly is. It was this that made such an impression on me when I witnessed the lady in the minivan. It inspired me to try to live more completely in an attitude of worship. So, I am trying to play worship music around the house to keep my mind and heart where they should be. When someone tries to give me credit for something that God has given me the strength to do, I can honestly say, "It is all God. He's responsible for that." That too is worship. And the funny thing is, the more I worship, the more I want to keep thanking the Lord for what He has done.
*I originally came across this word etymology in Worship in the Early Church by Ralph P. Martin. It is a great and informative book on the subject of worship that has shaped my thinking on the topic. I definitely recommend reading it!