Dr. Doug Posey
I was reminded recently that the Greek term for “worship” is προσκυνέω (proskyneō), or to prostrate oneself. It makes perfect sense and even though with classical, koine, or biblical, New Testament Greek you, “use it or lose it,” that vocabulary word is so graphic, it should’ve stuck. What better picture of worshipping someone, or something, than to lay down before it, him, or her.
People do it every day. They literally or figuratively lay their lives and possessions down, honoring that which they consider to be most important to them. They bow down before the “almighty dollar,” their jobs, their families, illicit affairs, material things, their religion, and occasionally, even God. Humankind was created to worship and that’s what humans do. It’s simply a matter of what, or who. It’s no surprise that the very first commandment had to do with worship, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20: 3). Read the other commandments carefully and you’d be hard-pressed to find one that has been more broken and abused than the first.
God created us for fellowship with Him, but He was to have first place, by far. He deserved our worship—and literally that of every created thing. From the heavens above and the occupants therein to the creeping things at the bottom of the sea, they were designed and devised for the declaration of His glory. Even inanimate objects will do, if others hold back or refuse. As Jesus reminded the Pharisees when they demanded that Jesus rebuke His disciples for praising Him as, “the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). He made it clear that, “…‘if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’” He came as God in the flesh and was no less worthy of the praise of all creation, no matter how seemingly lifeless.
So, if worship of God is to “proskyneō,” or prostrate oneself before Him, how does that work itself out practically in our lives? We don’t literally spend our lives facedown. Most people think of worship as “going to a worship service,” or going to church. More specifically, the part of the service where they sing songs of worship. Some churches, like ours, call this the “celebration service,” because as we worship, we celebrate God for who He is and what He has done. Again, for some, this consists specifically of the part of the service where we belt out a few songs and choruses (contemporary, traditional, blended, often with more focus on complaints about volume and style than on God) on our way to hearing a teaching from the Word. Many take this as having fulfilled their worship quota for the week. Not exactly “proskyneō.”
The Apostle Paul described a lifestyle of worship in Romans when he wrote, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Once in Christ, we are to be “living sacrifices.” Worship for the Jew was placing a sacrifice on the altar. Twice, Paul used the metaphor of being poured out as a drink offering. Once was as he sat in a Philippian jail, writing, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all” (Phil. 2:17). He knew the meaning of sacrifice for the Lord in the service of God for the sake of others. This too is a form of worship, λατρεύω (latreuō), “serve.” Laying his own interests aside to do the will of God. That, ultimately, is worshipping God with our lives, a pure form of worship,“that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.”
─PSALM 145:3 NASB