Worship is fundamental.

That may sound mundane, but let me explain.

The fundamental nature of worship became clearer to me in a conversation I had in November with a man named Scott, whom I met on the disc golf course. He said he came from a Christian family, but when I asked where his family went to church, he matter-of-factly said they didn’t. I pointed out that an essential aspect of being a Christian is going to church and worshiping with God’s people. He disagreed, but was quick to explain that he didn’t think his disagreement implied any great difference between us. He may not go to church, but he assured me that he has a private spiritual life, and that he hangs out with his own community of people he cares about. In his mind, this was equivalent to my commitment to go to church.

At this point in the conversation, I was tempted to smile and nod and affirm that he and I were basically on the same page. After all, we both considered ourselves spiritual, and we both had “communities” of people we spent intentional time with. And hey, here we were disc golfing, practicing for a tournament we had both signed up for. What more could he and I have in common!

Well, I decided I wouldn’t just smile and nod. Instead, I pursued the subject of worship. As I did so, the difference between Scott and me became inescapable. I told him that to be a Christian is to be a worshiper of God; and I told him that’s what I am. Scott, on the other hand, admitted that he refuses to worship God. In fact, he thinks it ungodly that God would require His creatures to worship Him.

I had to work very hard to convince Scott that this was no small difference between us: he hates our Maker; I love and worship Him. What more foundational difference could there be? And it was clear to me—if I was going to be faithful to God and helpful to Scott—that I needed to highlight this difference, and not minimize it. After all, how could Scott be reconciled to God without first realizing that he was God’s enemy?

In one word, worship is what distinguishes the children of God from the enemies of God. It is worship that indicates—here and now—the vast chasm between those on the road to eternal life and those on the road to eternal destruction.

The Psalms especially teach us this when they tell us that praise is what marks the people of God:

The dead do not praise the Lord,

Nor do any who go down into silence;

But as for us, we will bless the Lord

From this time forth and forever.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 115:17–18

As Christians, we need to understand that worship is at the very foundation of our identity. And more than that, if we believe Christ’s words that our Father is seeking “true worshipers” (John 4:23), it will be our delight (1) to surround ourselves with true worshipers, and (2) to see God’s enemies become true worshipers.

We should not be ashamed to be worshipers of our Father, nor should we be ashamed to tell others that worship is what our Father is seeking. Why not? Because He is worthy:

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.

Revelation 4:11

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