Posts Tagged holy


by Roger Severino

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When I was in seminary, I was encouraged to develop a working definition of worship that I could modify as needed over time. What I came up with is probably not original to me. Here’s my definition: “Worship is a response to who God is and what He has done for us.” OK, let’s break that down.

  1. “Response.” A response means that worship is the “effect” side of a cause-and-effect relationship. Many of our modern worship songs want to rush us to the “effect” side of the equation without giving proper focus to the “cause.” The lyrics express some feeling of emotion (love, gratitude, awe) without showing us the reason for this type of reaction. We have not yet contemplated who God is nor what He has done for us, and yet we are guided into a response. There is nothing wrong with emotions; at some level, our emotions should be touched by genuine worship. Worship, however, is not merely an emotional catharsis to make us feel better. It’s not about us. God is the focus.
  1. “Who God is.” Idolatry is when we worship something or someone other than the one true God. God is not merely an abstract notion such as Love or Peace. Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8) and we have peace with God through our faith in Christ (Romans 5:1). Yet, when we limit God to one characteristic, we can end up with a God who is love but not holy, or a God who brings peace but not division. When we worship, we need to make sure that we are responding to the God revealed by Jesus Christ and by Holy Scripture, and not merely a God I have made in my own image.
  1. “What He has done for us.” Often, the Psalms offer worship and praise to God by recounting His saving acts, whether reflecting on how God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, or a more personal remembrance of God’s salvation in the life of the psalmist. When we worship God, we too remember all He has done for us. For those of us on this side of salvation history, we reflect on the saving act of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We recount how He raised us from spiritual death to new life in Christ. We tell of the sufficiency of the cross to pay for all our sins and to reconcile us to God. We praise God for the gift of His Spirit who indwells us and empowers us for God’s work in the world. Worship is being appropriately astonished by God’s grace and voicing gratitude and praise. Genuine worship should not merely be an experience but should lead to spiritual transformation.

Finally, worship is not limited to an event (i.e. Sunday morning worship) or to singing.  Worship is much, much greater than a church service or merely singing psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs. Worship is a lifestyle. Offering our lives to God as living sacrifices is perhaps our greatest spiritual act of worship (see Romans 12:1).


by Roger Severino
Photo credit: Joe Hendricks
Roger Severino, Adult Discipleship – Leadership Minister

  1. We are encouraged to approach God as “Father.”  That may not sound that significant to us, but it was pretty radical coming off the lips of Jesus to His disciples.  Though the concept of God as Father is not absent in the Old Testament or prior to Jesus, the intimacy of “Abba, Father” is a drastic introduction.  We approach a good, loving, and merciful Father.  Prayer is relational.
  2. We must honor God as holy when we pray.   To honor His name as holy is to honor God as holy, because in biblical language the name represents the person.  Recognizing the holiness of God is recognizing that He is separate from us, and that He is perfect.  The intimacy of calling God “Father” is balanced by the recognition that we approach Him with deep reverence and respect (even fear, in the right sense).
  3. God desires that we pray for His work to be done on earth.  All things in heaven are in submission to God’s sovereign and perfect rule.  Take one look around you, and it is pretty clear that this is not how things are where we live.  What are God’s views about justice?  About love?  About people turning to Him and away from their destructive path?  About the blessing of well-being for all, including those on the margins of society?  How should this guide your prayer?
  4. We trust God for His provisions.  We worry about a lot of things.  Most of our anxieties in our society are first-world problems, not where we will get our next meal.  Trusting God for His provision of our needs (not necessarily our “wants”) demonstrates that we have faith and trust in God, and that we are satisfied with what He provides.  We pray for these things because it demonstrates our reliance on God for His provisions.
  5. Forgiveness is an important key to life.  Most of us know that we are in desperate need to be forgiven by God, not because we are axe murderers, but because of the selfishness, lust, greed, and pride that reside within us.  But Jesus doesn’t let us simply receive forgiveness.  He demands that we demonstrate it to others.  In fact, the test of whether we understand that we have received God’s undeserved forgiveness is that we forgive others in the same way.
  6. We look for God’s help to overcome evil.  God’s great desire for His children is that we be conformed more into the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29).  To become more like Jesus, we must surrender more of ourselves to God and allow Him to transform us.  That means that we look to God to help us overcome temptations and to persevere through trials.