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What’s the deal with worship?

By Josiah Gillespie

Josiah Gillespie is the worship pastor at Grace Community Church and is part of the team at South West School of Worship. This week, we invite him to unpack the theology of worship for us as we plan, pray and prepare for a week of worshipping God together across Cornwall and Devon. We’d love you to join us in the real, rich worship that crosses community and ushers in the kingdom of God.

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After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

The book of Revelation 7:9-10

I wonder what comes to your mind when you think about worship? Do you imagine certain postures – perhaps bowing or raising hands? Do you think of a certain song? Are your thoughts confined to a Sunday gathering or do you consider your daily life to be an expression of worship to God? Do frustrations bubble to the surface, as tensions around style and substance leave you eager to change the subject? As we wrestle with the difficult-to-define concept of worship, what is certain is that all of our ideas fall short.

The book of Revelation repeatedly puts worship beyond the grasp of the human mind, in the incomprehensible setting of the eternal throne room of God. We, His rescued people, are pictured as gathered in His presence, delighting in His glory and responding with praise. Endless, all-consuming praise – this is the Bible’s definitive picture of worship. Whatever we call ‘worship’ in this age, it is a shadow of the reality that is coming. And if you belong to Christ, that future reality is your destiny.

In the new creation, where redeemed humanity finally comes to rest, worship will become our sole ministry. Consider the startling truth that most of our current ministries will be forgotten. Around the throne, we won’t need pastors, evangelists or apostles. Paul tells us that tongues and prophecy will disappear. Worship will replace them all, and it will be real and rich – not weak and wandering as it so often is now.

But that is not to say that what we do now is somehow disconnected from what we will do then. On the contrary, earthly worship is to eternal worship what the acorn is to the oak tree. Only a fool would treasure grand old trees but despise fragile acorns. And only a fool would look forward to that eternal celebration but ignore the daily disciplines of earthbound worship. It is our earthly worship that prepares our hearts for heaven. It is our struggling pursuit of the knowledge of God’s presence here that prepares us for face-to-face encounter there.

So this post is to urge you to fix your eyes on your ultimate destiny. Grow a heart that longs for the day when you are able to enjoy the fullness of God’s presence and respond with the kind of worship He deserves. And then, with that great oak tree in mind, begin planting acorns now! Take every opportunity to worship Him as wholeheartedly as you can in this brief life. Praise Him on your way to work and as you curl up exhausted in bed. Meet with God’s people any time, any where, to praise Him in any style going. With hymns and with wild dances. With drums and with liturgies. 

Dear friends, let’s get in all the practice we can.

Find out more about the Worship Tour, all the dates and locations and how to book your free ticket here.

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