Worship begins with God. Worship is all about God’s action. He takes all the initiative in seeking worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4). He invites and draws us by His Spirit to participate in the glory-sharing of the Trinity. And He’s made a way for us to come boldly before His throne through the spotless blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain before the foundations of the world to take away the sins of the whole world. Worship begins with God and is made possible by God.
But we constantly struggle with the notion that it’s all about us. We think we have something to bring to God that will appease Him. We think we must, and we try to, bring “acceptable” offerings and sacrifices to Him. We muster our “best” faith and do our best to put on a happy face and rejoice in His presence, assuming this will make Him happy. Maybe we even think He’ll love us more and give us more good gifts if we worship Him well?
If this is true, then we are all doomed because we are all utterly flawed and in desperate need of redemption, and we have no power to save ourselves. Nothing we do or don’t do could ever appease the wrath of God or make Him love us.
But thanks be to God our Father who has made a way for us sinners to live in restored relationship with Him through the perfect sacrificial life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, revealed to us by His Holy Spirit who has drawn us to receive such gracious salvation! We are accepted by God on the basis of HIS righteousness accredited to us in Christ’s perfect humanity.
Jesus has endured all the wrath of God toward sinners in His own body on the cross. He was crushed for us. He was punished in our place. We have been purchased for God by the blood of Jesus and we are inspired by His Spirit to affirmatively respond and receive the free gift of eternal life in Christ.
Worship is not us finding a way to God. Worship is God drawing us to Himself, to share in the glorious relationship He has with Himself in the Trinity.
The reality is that God doesn’t need us to worship Him. God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. That’s not why we were created. The Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is entirely satisfied in the loving relationship He has with Himself. Out of His own fullness, out of the abundance of His continuous outpouring of love and worship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God was pleased to create us, to reveal Himself to us and draw us into this perfect fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the mysterious, beautiful glory-sharing of the Trinity (each member continuously and equally ascribing worth to the other members), God’s glorification and worship is complete. And now we, by the gracious favor of God, have been created to participate in this worship and to share unbroken fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He chose to share His glory with us!
This is mind-blowing and impossible to completely comprehend. But we have been given grace to learn of this beautiful mystery in the Scriptures. We are wise to search them and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and lead us into all truth.
Worship is a response gifted to us by our Father. We can choose whether or not to participate, to receive His invitation and respond in celebration of the wonders of His love, declaring the sufficiency of His salvation, and magnifying the glorious beauty of all His attributes. Matt Redman helpfully described it like this in his song titled “Gifted Response”:
This is a gifted response. Father, we cannot come to you by our own merit.
We will come in the name of Your Son as He glorifies You and in the power of Your Spirit
We have come to something so mysterious, too deep for minds to comprehend,
Through the open door where the angels sing, and the Host of Heaven are antheming!
And we’ll sing the glory of your name, celebrate the glories of your grace
We will worship You! We will worship You!
And we’ll make Your praise so glorious, singing songs of everlasting praise
We will worship You! We will worship You!
Worship begins with God who invites us—by the power of His Spirit—to participate. And He makes a way for us to do that through Jesus, our Faithful High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us and lead us in worship before the Father.