Not All of Life is Worship

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Worshiping God is a high privilege and joy. Christians love to worship so much that it may sound to them very spiritual and appropriate to suggest that everything Christians do is worship. To say, “Even when I am doing the mundane things of life, I am worshiping God,” may seem suggestive of a close relationship with Him. But is it true that the whole Christian life is worship? The biblical answer is no. Consider the following points:

  • By definition, the biblical idea of worship involves a definite act or set of actions, not an overall state of being, emotion, or attitude (Judges 7:15; 1 Samuel 1:19; 2 Samuel 12:20; John 4:21-24; Acts 8:27; 24:11; Hebrews 13:5). The most frequently used Greek word translated “worship” in the New Testament means “reverence paid.” Therefore, worship has a beginning time and an ending time (e.g., Genesis 22:5).
  • The Bible teaches that while one should engage in private worship anywhere he likes, there is a specific place and time—the assembly of the church members—for corporate worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • There are five specific avenues or acts of worship authorized in the New Testament (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Timothy 2:8).

So, while all of Christian life is service and glorification to God (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:31), not all of life is worship—the act of paying homage or reverence to God.

The idea that all of life is worship is not only implausible because of the biblical doctrine of worship, but is also tragic because it undermines the significance of worship. If I am no more worshiping when I sing “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” than I am when I eat breakfast, then why bother with singing “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah”?

Furthermore, the idea that all of life is worship has serious, negative consequences. If all of life is worship, and it is alright to attend a pop music concert on Tuesday night, then it is alright to use the same pop music group to play for the church on Sunday. But such would go against the New Testament pattern for worship (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19). If all of life is worship, and it is alright for a woman to speak at a city council meeting, then it is alright for the same woman to preach to the church on Sunday. But such would go against the New Testament pattern for worship (1 Timothy 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 14:33-35).

While we cherish every opportunity to worship, we are not worshiping in every moment.

Comments

  1. I have read an article saying that: “we live in a broken world that says work does not equal to worship why not? God created us to worship with our work”!
    Colossians 3:23
    My question: Is our work equal to worship as the author is trying to prove?

    Best regards,
    Johnny

  2. I have read an article saying that: “we live in a broken world that says work does not equal to worship why not? God created us to worship with our work”!

    My question: Is our work equal to worship as the author is trying to prove?

    Best regards,
    Johnny

  3. Johnny says:

    Hello caleb

    Another article saying that everything we do is worship by citing romans 1:1-2:

    “Basically IDOLATRY is misplaced WORSHIP. It’s worshiping something or someone other than God-but as we’ve talked about repeatedly over the years. Worship is more than bowing down-it’s more than what we do here in this place on any given Sunday. No, the Bible teaches us that genuine worship is a lifestyle. It’s a 24-7-365 kind of thing. Do you remember Paul’s inspired words in Romans 12:1-2?”I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies-as living sacrifices [constant sacrifices], holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of WORSHIP.”

    So you see, IDOLATRY is much more than worshiping statues. It is moving God out of His rightful place in our day to day lives-and replacing Him with something or someone else. And with this definition in mind we can see that IDOLATRY is indeed still a problem, because these days there are so many ways that we REPLACE God with other things. In this, the 21st century we so often sacrifice our best time, energy, and attention not to God but to the idols of entertainment, leisure, technology, relationships, fashion, materialism, sexual indulgence, stock portfolios, cars, and personal power. I mean the SHAPES of contemporary idols may differ form those in Bible times but the TEMPTATION for idolatry is stronger than ever!
    We worship happiness and personal leisure and self-esteem at all costs. We worship how we look.. We especially bow down to our careers. In fact it is often not until the first heart attack that men realize that they WORK to LIVE not LIVE to WORK. We care more about personal rights than God-given responsibilities. We make every effort to “look out for number one.”

    Again this article made me confused about worship if it is everything we do because as the author says we are living sacrifice and we become what we worship what control our heart will control our behaviour?
    Can you clarify for me please!

    Thanks
    John

    • Caleb Colley says:

      Giving one’s life to God as a “living sacrifice” does not specify that every action we take in life is worship. Rather, it means that we submit our will to His in whatever we do (e.g., 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). As I said in a previous response: Paul clearly teaches that, in a metaphorical sense, we offer our whole lives as a “living sacrifice” to God (Romans 12:1). However, the meaning of λατρεία must be determined by its context, and given the data discussed in the article above, it is impossible that every act of life literally is an act of worship, because worship requires the active engagement of the mind toward God. I hope this helps.

  4. Hello,

    I have read an article by paul tripp saying that “worship is your identity before it is ever an activity”
    You don’t need to learn how to worship or how to begin worshiping. By nature and hard-wiring, you ARE a worshiper. Every human being has been designed by God to worship during every minute of every day.
    All life is worship according to paul tripp and cites an example on romans 1:25
    He says: When we read Romans 1:25, I think our immediate tendency is to find practical ways to “worship and serve” God more. For example, we look for areas where we can spend less money and time on us and commit that money and time to the ministry of the local church.
    I want to encourage those actions, because they’re biblical, but you need to consider your worship as an identity before you think of it as an activity. You, the worshiper, are always attaching your identity – your meaning, well-being and sense of purpose – to something or someone. And where a worshiper finds his or her identity, there they’ll find practical ways to worship.

    My question is as follows : paul tripp is trying to prove that everything we do and say is worship because it is who we are our identity! While You say that everything we do is not worship.Can u comment on paul tripp’s concept and what about romans 1:25 that paul tripp uses to prove all life is worship? What is the truth according to scriptures and bible?

    Regards,

    John
    This is the link article: https://www.paultripp.com/articles/posts/worship-everyday

    • Caleb Colley says:

      Hi Johnny,

      Thanks for the question. I agree that man was made to worship, that man naturally seeks to serve a higher power. But this does not mean that man was made to worship to the exclusion of all other activity. (I might as well say that because I was made to eat food that I never stop eating.)

      I am uncomfortable with the unqualified statement, “You don’t need to learn how to worship.” In a sense, Cain clearly needed to learn how (Genesis 4); Nadab and Abihu clearly needed to learn how (Leviticus 10); The Pharisees of Jesus’ day clearly needed to learn how (Matthew 15:9); The Samaritans of Jesus’ day clearly needed to learn how (John 4:21-24).

      Romans 1:25 mentions a contrast between true worship and false worship, but says nothing concerning the question of whether all of life is worship. I would respectfully and kindly urge you to read and contemplate the Bible for yourself and before turning to commentary.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read our articles. We would be happy to study the Bible with you directly at any time. Feel free to email me at calebcolley@gmail.com, and I will help you get started!

      Best wishes,
      Caleb

  5. Hello I have read an article about the question “is all life worship” and the author replied the best way to answer this question is by “yes and no”! I did not understand his answer to this question and made me more confused this is the link: http://www.mtjuliet.org/is_all_of_life/
    Can u plz clarify and tell me what is the real answer to “Is all of life worship” question and what does the author mean by yes and no.
    Thank u 
    Best regards,
    Johnny

    • Caleb Colley says:

      Hi Johnny,
      Thank you for your question. I saw the page you referenced, and I understand why Brother Shannon would like to answer by saying “yes and no.” Paul clearly teaches that, in a metaphorical sense, we offer our whole lives as a “living sacrifice” to God (Romans 12:1). However, the meaning of λατρεία must be determined by its context, and given the data discussed in the article above, it is impossible that every act of life literally is an act of worship, because worship requires the active engagement of the mind toward God. I hope this helps.
      Thanks again,
      Caleb

  6. The Greek concept of worship, (proskuneo, (προσκυνέω)), was seen as a specific act of reverence or homage. While the hebrew concept of worship avodah both translated as worship and service therefore they conclude all service is worship all life is worship. Can u tell us which concept is correct by biblical scriptures thank u!

    • Caleb Colley says:

      Hi John,

      Again, the issue is that one word can have a broader meaning and a more specific meaning. Which meaning is intended must be determined by the context. Such is the case with עָבַד, the word you mentioned, and λατρεία in the New Testament.

      Thanks,
      Caleb

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