Wonderful theologians, pastors, and Christian leaders have led the Church back to the understanding that worship—while it is a corporate expression of the Church—is not bound by the walls of the Church, and it does not only takes place weekly. Instead, worship has been understood to be an individual expression of our love and devotion towards God as well. We worship individually, corporately as families, and corporately as the Church.
While worship is absolutely a life of love and devotion towards God, there is one problem. We are a sinful, fallen people who tend redirect our love and devotion for God in many other directions. The Bible calls this idolatry, and as God’s people, we must keep this word in the front of our minds at all times, guarding our hearts and minds from it.
In the beginning of Genesis, we see a beautiful picture of Adam and Eve with God in the garden of Eden. They are in perfect relationship with God. Their identity is found in their Creator, and they enjoy Him and are devoted to Him. We see a wonderful picture of worship.
God allowed Adam and Eve to rule over the land; however, He made plain the understanding that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for if they did, they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). We know what Adam and Eve ultimately did eat of the fruit as a result of a conversation with the serpent and a conscious choice to disobey God. Adam and Eve willfully disobeyed God by choosing to eat of the fruit. Adam and Eve chose to believe they knew more than God, and therefore, they chose to ultimately worship themselves instead of God. Sadly, the pride in their hearts led to them idolizing themselves, and from the moment of their disobedience, sin came into this world, creating separation between God and His creation. Since Genesis 3, we have been debating worship of God because sin messed up the perfect created worship of God that was taking place in the garden of Eden.
Since Genesis 3, we have been trying to determine an exact definition of worship; we have been trying to determine an exact where; we have been trying to determine exact how; and we have been trying to determine an exact when. While all of these questions are vital, it seems as though we have missed the who of our worship, and when we understand the who, everything else makes sense.
In Genesis 3:15, God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” Theologically this is known as the Protoevangelium or the first gospel. God makes it clear that there will be enmity between people—the offspring of Eve—and the offspring of the serpent. While there is a literal understanding here as to why people hate and kill snakes and snakes bite people, this also is God’s first declaration of redemption for sinful people. This talking serpent is none other than Satan. And God makes clear that there is a battle between Satan (evil) and God’s created people, and ultimately there is One who will crush the head of Satan, and His name is Jesus! Jesus lived perfectly, died sacrificially, and rose powerfully from the grave to crush the head of Satan. Praise the Lord! Jesus is the redemption plan, and God had no plan B.
Now the question is: what does this all have to do with worship? And the answer is: EVERYTHING! When Adam and Even sinned in the garden, Scripture teaches us that each of us are inheritors of sin from Adam (Romans 5:12-14). Therefore, we are all separated from God on our own merit, and because of this truth, Genesis 3:15 means everything to us. Jesus Christ is the only One who causes us to not be separated from God, if we have faith that He is our Savior and Lord. Without Christ, our worship is absolutely pointless. We can never come into the presence of the Holy God of the universe apart from Christ. He is the who of our worship, and if we remove Him out of our worship, then the how, when, and where absolutely do not matter. Jesus Christ must be central to our worship. If Jesus is not our adoration and praise, then we have landed into idolatry.
When we focus upon what we want in our worship, whether it be corporately or individually, we are no different than Adam and Eve standing in the garden eating the fruit of which God commanded them not to eat. God’s ways are always better than ours, and we must understand that in our sinful flesh, we cannot worship God on our own. The writer of Hebrews teaches us that Jesus is our Great High Priest (4:14-16). If Christ were not mediating for us, we could never worship the Almighty God of the universe. This is why we should constantly marvel at the fact that we are even allowed to worship God.
Worship of God has always been on His terms, and it will always be on His terms. He is God. Always rejoice in Jesus and keep Him central to your worship of God, because without Him, our worship is fallen and ultimately idolatrous. Thank God for a resurrected Savior, and always, always seek to worship God only in the name of Jesus, because He is the only way to the Father.
Landon Reynolds is a Christ-follower, husband, father, and pastor. Currently, Landon is an associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Florence, SC, where he oversees music and worship. He holds degrees from Anderson University, SC, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently, Landon is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry from Anderson University, SC. Find his blog at calvarycaresworship.com.