Louie Giglio in his book The Air I Breathe defines worship in this way: “Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God for who He is and what He has done, expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.” In my opinion that definition hits really close to what we read in the Bible about authentic worship.
Focus for a moment on some of the phrases in that definition.
“Worship is our response … to God”
Worship is a verb as well as a noun. It is something we do. It is not a spectator activity, but one in which the whole person is engaged in responding to God’s revelation of Himself. Worship doesn’t start with us. It’s a response to something that started with God. He reveals Himself; we respond. He shows us amazing things about Himself and we respond, “God, you’re awesome.”
“Both personal and corporate”
Worship starts out as something personal and private. If it doesn’t start there then corporate worship is hypocritical. But if our personal worship is not regularly blended with the worship of other believers, our worship is incomplete.
“To God for who He is”
This is about a relationship. Worship is one person responding to another Person. When we understand by the Scriptures or by creation something about God we are to offer praise to Him. The Bible repeatedly calls upon us to “praise His name.” To praise the name of the Lord is to praise His person and His attributes.
“To God … what He has done”
God reveals Himself through His powerful deeds. We, the witnesses and recipients of those deeds, are to respond with thanksgiving. As the psalmist says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4). Our thanksgiving to God must be continuous; every breath we take is a gift from Him.
“Expressed in and by the things we say”
Unexpressed gratitude is ingratitude. Unexpressed praise is indifference. We have not reached authentic worship until our praise and thanksgiving move from our heart to our lips. The psalmist said, “My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long” (Psalm 35:28).
“Expressed in and by … the way we live”
Our worship flows from our hearts to our lips … and then to our lives. Every act of life is to be offered to the Lord as worship to Him. This means that worship is not just something that happens on Sundays; it’s a 24/7 experience. The Apostle Paul exhorts us: “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). Our home life, our work life, our recreational life, our financial life, indeed, our entire life is to be an offering of worship to our great God and King.