True Worship Part II: FALSE WORSHIP


The thrust of this second article of the series on the impact of true worship on all of life is on the contrast of true worship—false or empty worship. Just as there is genuine, vibrant worship there is also false worship. What is it? What is the main characteristic or indicator of false worship? False worship is disconnected from day to day living and from morality. Let us explore in brief below. The introductory article noted the following salient points:

Worship is an ancient as well as current practice all over the worship. It did and still occurs all over the world. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Shinto, Zoroastrians, traditional religionists worship God or gods in one form or the other. What is the difference between worship and liturgy?

The word worship comes from two distinct words: worth and ship and means to assign worth to something or someone. It began as a secular word and meant assigning worth or value to certain persons deemed to be worthy in the eyes of society. A record of burials 1598 reads: “In this cloister were buried many persons, some of worship and others of honor”. “Worship” refers to those with many worldly possessions and “honor” to those of noble birth (the aristocrats). Eventually it took on a religious meaning and in the religious sense it means assigning ultimate or absolute worth or value to the Ultimate or Absolute, God Almighty. Whatever we give our ultimate or absolute value or worth to becomes the object of our worship.

The definition we believe expresses the meaning and purpose of true worship and which we subscribe to is from the Webster’s Dictionary, 1928: “Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission”. In this important sense worship is about values and priorities. Worship is about who God is and where he is on our priority lists. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed in thought, words, and deeds. Worship is about the best of our love and submission of our hearts and wills to God Almighty. It is very much about our how we live and conduct ourselves under all circumstances of life. True worship ought to impact all of our relationships as well.

Liturgy as distinct from worship is a particular form or structure of worship. The particular format and structure formed over many years is liturgy. Therefore there are Anglican/Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Muslim and other liturgies. Again the word and concept of liturgy began in a secular fashion. It originally meant the work (ergon) of the people (laos) for the common good. This secular meaning was replaced by a religious one which means the work of the people for the glory and honor of God and of course for the common good. True worship gives meaning, motive and energy to all of our forms of works.

The prophet Isaiah gives a vivid picture, which is equally applicable to false worship, of false fasting. He writes: the people ask, “Why should we fast if the Lord never notices?  Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?” The Lord says to them, “The truth is that at the same time you fast you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers?… The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear and do not refuse to help your own relatives. Them my favor will shine on you like the morning sun and your wounds will quickly be healed” (Isaiah 58:3-8). Though this passage was primarily about fasting, its message applies to all of our religious duties such worship, Bible study, prayer meeting, and giving to the Church and the needy. They must be followed by right living. They must issue into healthy relationships and the promotion of justice, peace and empowerment for all. Therefore true worship must not be divorced from right living and right practice. Any worship short of this is empty and false.


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