To a lot of churchgoers, Sunday is simply the day you pack everybody up and go visit Jesus for an hour. But it is certainly more than visiting day. It's the day we culminate all our private praise during the week and anticipate further episodes of worship for the days ahead as we experience God's faithfulness.
Let's examine six big characteristics of worship from Revelation 4-5, two praise-packed chapters that give us a glimpse of the adoration that's happening in heaven:
1. Worship is fundamental. It is so basic to who we are and what we do as Christians (see Acts 2:46-47) that we're going to worship God in eternity. In Revelation 4, John saw twenty-four elders in heaven, who represent the church, "fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever" (v. 10).
2. Worship is intellectual. It's based on who God is and what God has done. As the worship song in Revelation 4 goes, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!... You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things" (vv. 8, 11). This describes God's character and God's conduct: He is holy and almighty, and He created everything. Thus, worship is an intelligent response to God that involves the mind (see Luke 10:27).
3. Worship is physical. Notice there's a lot of physical activity in Revelation 4:10: the elders "fall down" before God and "cast their crowns before the throne." In Western culture, we tend to guard ourselves against physical expression in worship, but it's perfectly acceptable—not to mention biblical—for the body to correspond with the heart, as long as the attention is drawn to God.
4. Worship is musical. "The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp" (Revelation 5:8). Maybe harps don't sound that exciting to you, but here's the point: music has been (see Psalm 150) and will continue to be part of the worship of God into eternity.
5. Worship is vocal. "They"—meaning the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and later all the angels of heaven (see vv. 11-12)—"sang a new song" (Revelation 5:9). As much as I love a good choir, we're all meant to join in. And if you're not a good singer, take to heart this advice I once heard: if God gave you a bad voice, give it back to Him.
6. Worship is emotional. Reading Revelation 5:11-14 paints for me a picture of an ever-increasing, passionate anthem of praise. Why do Christians think that enthusiasm for the most worthy thing in the universe must be carefully contained? Whatever your wiring is, give your all to God; put yourself into worshiping Him.
Let me say from personal experience that there isn't a time in life when God can't be worshiped. That's because worship shouldn't be determined by what's going on inside you or around you but by who God is and what He's done and is doing. Worship is one of the things that marked the early church and will mark the eternal church, so let's make sure it marks you and me in the present church, too.