There are many different answers to that question. Yes, different Christians do worship in different ways. Upbringing and culture influence the way they express their worship.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about worship because it is so important. In spite of diverse customs around the world, all Christians have one standard that teaches the right way to do worship: God’s Holy Word. In the Bible, we find essential truths that must characterize worship that pleases God regardless of the culture.
I think the best book in the Bible to learn about worship is the Psalms. It is a big book and is easy to find because it is right in the middle of the Bible. Even though the Psalms were written more than three thousand years ago, they are filled with pictures of worship that are as true today as they were when they were written. Let’s use this book to explore some essential elements of worship together.
First of all, God-centered worship is happy. “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1–2). Some people view worship as something sad and demanding. They endure it because they think that is what God wants. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
The Bible has an interesting example of the wrong way to worship in 1 Kings 18:19-39. I hope you will take a minute and read the story. A group of pagan worshippers tried to get their god’s attention by screaming, dancing, and even cutting themselves until the blood gushed out. (By the way, if you look for it, you’ll also find some humorous sarcasm from God’s prophet in this story.)
I doubt any of us have seen anything like that in our day, but it’s still common for many public worship services to be somber and even dull. Contrast that with this description of worship that God delights in. “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious” (Psalm 66:1–2).
Worship that pleases God does not happen because we follow a certain routine that we call worship. Our worship of God must be fueled by our knowledge of who He is. We must have Bible-centered convictions about the worthiness of God in order to worship Him. In order to have God-centered worship, we must focus on different truths about God Himself.
For example, “the Lord [‘the eternally self-existent one’] is a great God [‘the Almighty’] and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3).
A basic truth about God is that He is the all-powerful Creator of everything. “In whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” (Psalm 95:4–5). “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3).
Worshipping Jesus requires an acknowledgment that He is the Creator. “For by [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
We must have worship that is joyful, that is focused on truths about who God is, and that is also reverent. It is exciting to worship the one true God, but it is also awesome because He is so great and holy. “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:6). Notice how the wise men reacted when they encountered Jesus when He was just a new-born baby. “… they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him….” (Matthew 2:10–11).
One last thought before I go. Real worship is also motivated by passionate gratefulness that the eternal God has made a way for us to know Him personally. “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand……” (Psalm 95:7).
If your worship is not driven by joy, reverence, and gratefulness, you may not actually know this God. Perhaps you are just going through cultural patterns you learned growing up. Please make sure you seek Him with all your heart. Take time to wonder at what Jesus did to rescue you from the eternal punishment that our sin requires. “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4–5).
If you love Jesus, you want to worship Him in a way that pleases Him. He is the One who said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). You will find great joy in following and worshipping Him.