Last week I was thinking about Romans 12:1. It states: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (ESV) In this particular verse, the word ‘worship,’ when peeled back, means “reasonable service.” (In the original language) Worship and service are intrinsically linked. When satan tempted Jesus he asked Jesus to worship him. Jesus replied that we should bow down (worship) and serve God only (Luke 4:8). Jesus linked bowing down and serving and that hasn’t changed today. Those who bow down to God will willingly serve him and those who serve him should willingly bow down. I personally believe that we see a literal bowing down happening throughout Scripture again and again – and namely in Revelation. So this matters to God. It matters to Him that we understand His heart and what He wants from us, if we are to be in right relationship with Him.
People often say that they want to “worship God in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24) and they link this to singing. In fact, the term ‘worship’ in that passage is linked to prostration – complete and total submission before a Holy God.
Here is something I typed up a few months ago after doing some research:
John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers (from the original text: From proskuneo; an adorer) will worship (from the original text: From pros meaning to fawn or crouch to, i.e. literally or figuratively – prostrate oneself in homage – do reverence to, adore) the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship (same word in the Greek) him. God is spirit, and those who worship (same word in the Greek) him must worship (same word in the Greek) in spirit and truth.” (ESV)
*Based on the original text, then, John 4:23-24 might also be written in the following way:
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when adorers of God will bow down and prostrate themselves for the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to bow down and adore him. God is spirit, and those who bow down and prostrate themselves before him must do so in spirit and truth.”
As we can see, based on the Greek, this is not about singing. It is about submission and a giving up of control. I believe that God would like for us to admit, in humility, that we are not equal to Him. We are not on equal footing nor do we have the power that He has, the intellect that He harnesses, or the knowledge that He maintains: keeping things in balance and motion at all times, from every angle. He doesn’t want to force us to admit this: He would prefer that we circumcise our hearts and allow Him to bring us down to a lowered place of humility: ready to bow and serve.
And then He can raise us up.
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (ESV)
1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” (ESV)
Matthew 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV)
May we pray, this day, for the gift of humility so that God can raise us up, in due time, to serve Him: to love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.