defining worship

22 07 2009

Many definitions have been developed about worship, but when I read them I would come up with objections. After spending years musing worship, a semester researching in independent study, and hours studying worship and associated ideas within the Bible I landed on key ideas.

intentional – I liked the idea of worship as a lifestyle, but worship seemed connected to purposed actions.
response – It is a reaction to something preexisting for what it is or has done.
admiration – The responses considered worship were not rooted in ill thoughts or feelings.
anything – Anything can be worshiped. It is not limited to living beings or physical objects, one can worship a concept.
perceived or real – False worship exists, therefore, truth does not have to move someone to worship.

A good definition must be restrictive yet not too rigid. This definition was developed to be applicable to biblical Christian worship as well as any other form. When I put these ideas together my definition is:

Worship is an intentional response in admiration toward anything for what it is or has done whether perceived or real.

This definition excludes the idea of worship as a lifestyle, but does not prevent worship from pervading a person’s life. It also limits what actions are worship as they must be done in admiration and not from other thoughts or emotions such as terror or melancholy. The definition also allows for worship to be a label given to actions toward false gods as well as the True God.

Each aspect plays a key roll in focusing what is labelled worship. An action cannot be put in a category of worship without discovering its underlying roots. The 4 of the 5 aspects focus are rooted in the worshiper and help define whether an action is worship or not. Another aspect that seems to limit worship is that it seems only  connected with humans, angels and other “spirit” beings. I didn’t know how to put that animals and inanimate objects can’t worship God according to what is shown in Scripture.

Though I studied worship a lot it still seems to have an elusive quality. Defining worship is a life long proposition.

Does this definition seem helpful? Did I miss an aspect about worship?