We all find someone or something to worship, sometimes at the same time! I don't think we are sometimes very savvy about who or what we worship, we just get carried away in the thrill of the moment and forget about how much attention someone or something actually requires of us. In essence, we get swept away in our worship, almost without thought as to what is behind our worship. Mind gets focused, heart is swayed, and time is spent - all without really evaluating the "thing" of our worship. We may not have graven images we bow before, lighting candles, reciting some mantra of sorts, but we all have a tendency to worship. Look it up! Worship is simply adoring reverence or regard. This reverence or regard can be toward anyone or any "thing" - it makes no matter - when the mind is focused, heart is swayed, and time is spent, we have crossed over into worship. I think it might just do us some good to consider the characteristics of what God expects of those who worship him. It might help us to recognize when we are crossing over into some type of worship which is less than what he desires!
But if you don’t want to worship the Lord, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the Lord! (Joshua 24:15 CEV)
Foremost in my mind, the idea of what "qualifies" as entering into an attitude of worship brings me to our first characteristic - that of humility and what some have called a "broken heart". Lest you think I am saying we can only worship if we have been dumped by someone, left with a broken heart and capable of putting our life into a Country Western song about being dumped, I am not! Brokenness of heart is simply characterized by a recognition of how much we need the healing touch of Jesus. It doesn't take being "dumped" to make us recognize this fact - it takes a sensitivity to the depth of our sin! As we become aware of our sinful condition, we also become aware of how miserable of a job we have done trying to "make good" of our lives! We cannot make our lives good - we need his healing touch. Nothing apart from his touch will actually bring the "health" back into our lives which sin has left as damaged and broken places. To truthfully recognized our need, we need a humbleness of heart - one willing to admit where it is we need his touch.
I think the next characteristic God looks for is where some of us get a little hung up in our approach to God - simply because we don't see ourselves as "holy" people - despite God calling us holy IN CHRIST JESUS. As long as we have said "yes" to Jesus, live in a continual state of bringing our needs and weaknesses to Christ for his help, and are honoring him with a life committed to his service, we are declared "holy" by God the Father. In turn, we approach God (not in our own holiness or righteousness) in the righteousness and holiness placed into our lives because of the presence of Jesus within. God says it takes "holiness" to approach his throne - to come into his "inner courts". God isn't concerned that we get it right all the time - he is concerned that we recognize where we need to go when we don't! I think we get a little hung up on not "being right", so we don't feel we can enter into worship. The exact opposite is true - we may not "perform right" all the time, but in Christ Jesus, by means of his grace, we can "stand right" before God.
Most of us equate worship with some sense of deep reverence. It is the first definition of worship in the dictionary, so I guess we'd be right in one sense. Yet, these other factors we have considered are also important. Reverence is just being able to recognize the value of the one we worship - recognized "value" being what we then equate with holding some form of "superior" purpose or place in our lives. I value my health, but I don't give it a place of "superior" purpose or place in my life - as is evident in the extra pounds I carry and the fact I need to constantly reminded I need more activity since I spend so much time at a desk or behind a computer. What DOES get this place of "superior" purpose and placement in my life is God himself - not because I "have" to give him this place, but because I want to. If we have had a genuine encounter with the one true God, we walk away changed - and this change leaves an impact or impression we cannot deny. In turn, we "elevate" our focus toward the one we have been touched by so deeply. This is reverence.
So, before we head to church to "worship" together, let's do something together. Take a deep breath, settle down for just a few moments, and let's do some refocusing of our attention, remembering of just how deeply God has touched our lives, and how awesome of an impression his touch has left within us. If we do this often enough, we will keep our minds focused on God, our hearts softened to respond to his, and our spirits open to receive (and give) what he most needs from us - our love! Just sayin!