Understanding the roles and differences of praise and worship
Christian praise and worship. As with many things subject to interpretation, you will find different applications of these things within the Christian community. For some, praise and worship are expressed in music. This drives their gatherings and feeds positive emotions towards God. For others, they include music and inspiration. They play a significant role in their gatherings as a focusing element for being open to God’s word. Others still have praise and worship in a smaller role. Who is right? Does it matter? Are these two parts of the same thing or are they entirely different? How do I know if I am paying enough attention to praising God? Am I living a life that expresses an attitude of worship?
So, what is worship anyway?
Is it reverently focusing on God while attending a service? Does worship thrive on emotions drawn from hymns and psalms being sung and recited with others? Is it a state of mind or a state of being? If you want to understand true Christian worship, you’d probably open your Bible to see what Jesus said about it. Surprisingly, when it comes to worship, Jesus never even mentioned it his followers. Not once! In fact, the only time he taught about worship was to a Samaritan woman while having a conversation at a well about what Jesus called “living water.”
In spirit and in truth
The Samaritan woman brings up the traditions of Samaritan worship of God in the mountain and the Jewish practice of worshipping God in Jerusalem. Jesus’ response is surprising to her and revealing to us. He tells her God’s true worshippers will now worship Him "in spirit and in truth." Jesus is saying that true connected worship of God will no longer be bound to any location. Because Jesus was here, worshiping God will now be different. After this conversation, Jesus never again teaches specifically about worship.
What are we supposed to do with this? Learn! The whole concept of worship is much bigger than many of us might think. While the Greek word means "to bow low," the New Testament application of this action applies to how we live. Understanding this will also give us a better sense of what it means to praise God.
Praise is another huge part of this conversation. While it is a deeply important aspect of our Christian lives, it too has a different look and feel than what we see in the Old Testament. Check out our July 20,2020 podcast, “Are Praise and Worship Necessary To Be a Faithful Christian?” for more. We set the firm foundation of what worship means on a daily basis to the Christian and then consider the role of praise. We address the similarities and differences of Old and New Testament praise and focus on its power in our lives. Our worship and praise can lift and encourage others while focusing us on fulfilling God’s will daily. Most important, our worship and praise can honor God. What’s better than that?
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