Everything we do? (Nope.)

The preacher said, “Everything we do is worship!”  Then the preacher invited “his” congregation to turn in their Bibles to Revelation 19:10.  The section reads as follows:

Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that!  I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God.  For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  (ESV)

. . . and I wondered how much time he thought we should be spending in obeisance.  Are we really to be falling down and doing homage at all times?

It is not that everything we do is worship.  No, worship is defined more specifically than that.  Indirectly, some other activities might be said to become worship, sort of, but worship is worship, and other things are not worship.  It’s really about that simple.

It’s the same thing with praise, too.  Maybe you have heard a prayer that goes something like this:

LordWeThankYouForLettingUsGatherHereToSingTheseWonderfulSongsOf PraiseToYourName (when the songs had actually consisted of “In the Sweet By and By,” “I’m in the Gloryland Way,” “Be with Me, Lord,” and “Abide with Me”).

It either is, or it ain’t.  It should be relatively clear whether a song’s words are those of praise or worship to God.  Praise is praise, and worship is worship.  Other things are other things.

Worship is the chief end of man.  By “end,” I mean both the present end-goal and the final, continuing activity of God’s people, as indicated in the Apocalypse (Revelation).  And the glorification of God in and through our lives is a worthy ideal, but not everything in this life is worship.


Sometimes I think I’m the only one who notices that preachers have a vested interest in much of what they do.  If everything a church is understood as worship, and preachers are involved in everything a church does, then preachers’ roles are effectively aggrandized, and preachers themselves benefit.  Because of this vested interest, preachers’ words ought to be weighed carefully.

12 thoughts on “Everything we do? (Nope.)

  1. Bill Mcgee 11/12/2013 / 5:48 pm

    I’m not sure how I should feel (being a preacher) after reading your blog entry… One thing I feel is that I have a pulpit once a week with about 125 folks in the pews…while you have a blog everyday…all day…and an audience worldwide… I am thinking your words should be weighed more carefully…right?

    As for worship, how do we answer the Hebrews author: Heb 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, (29) for our “God is a consuming fire.”

    Hint: He goes on to describe acceptable worship and it will be of no benefit to me if I can help my congregation to understand it…


    • Brian Casey 11/12/2013 / 6:10 pm

      Bill, it’s been too long. I can’t imagine ever ceasing to trust your heart, and I wish we could visit more regularly.

      Sounds like you might have been offended here. “As a preacher,” I guess that makes sense. Although, knowing a good deal about you and your integrity, I would never attribute poor ethics or disingenuous religiosity to you, you have to admit that you do have a financial interest in the religious system that pays you a salary. It’s the nature of the system that merits scrutiny and not any particular person such as you. This applies to every line of work — mine included — but when we deal overtly with the spiritual, it gets trickier, at least for me. Maybe my tune would change into a more major key if I were employed full-time by a church, but that’s not likely to happen. 🙂

      I’m not sure what you’re asking in the Hebrews quote. I don’t need to “answer” that at all, really, but I’d point out that that is a more horizontal thing (latreuo) being enjoined there, not worship *per se. *The same principle would apply, though: whether it’s worship or service, call it what it is, and do it, if it’s good. 🙂 I stand firm on my insistence that the likes of “In the Sweet By and By” and “Each Day I’ll Do” are not worship.

      In your “hint,” did you mean ” … if I *can’t* help my congregation”? Assuming that, I guess I understand what you mean, but I respectfully disagree. Don’t you think worship and service are beneficial to the spirit without qualification?

      My audience, by the way, is probably smaller than yours most days — especially if you post your sermons online. 🙂 And I don’t write every day, by any means. There’s been a flurry lately, but some of the essay-ettes have been in development for months.

      So, tell me: which of my words/expressions do you think needed to be weighed more carefully? (I assume here that you want to take me to task for something. I don’t want to assume it’s only the mention of preachers’ vested interest.) If I need to correct something or back down, I will. . . .


    • Brian Casey 11/12/2013 / 9:45 pm

      By the way, it was none other than you, Bill, who offered a very quotable quote one time (in response to my old Principally Proskuneo, maybe? or to what you called “didactic worship”?). You said “We don’t really bow down when we bow down.” I took you to mean that it’s a shame we rarely/never bow physically when we’re involved in verifiable, proskuneo-worship — which is, in a manner of speaking, “bowing down” in spirit!


  2. Bill Mcgee 11/13/2013 / 12:53 am

    I don’t have any desire to take to you to task. I just wanted to give you a preacher’s perspective on what you wrote (or maybe the way you wrote it.) I felt the tone of what you said begged others to respond against their preacher (a preacher or preachers in general.) Hence, my jotting down a few lines of opinion. I am suggesting that your words must be “weighed” carefully if they can be viewed with negativity toward some group of folks.

    Tone aside. My real interest in what you wrote is on worship. I am always looking for the way people talk about, define and understand worship. I am in search of acceptable worship. So, I want to hear what others think. If I understand you right, you are saying worship is not all the time; it can’t be; there are things we do that are not worship. That is what brought me to your blog. I wanted to see what you meant when you said, “It is not that everything we do is worship. No, worship is defined more specifically than that.” You have in mind that worship is defined. I am always interested when I see those words. I want to know if your definition of acceptable worship is the same as what the Hebrews author’s seems to be.

    If so, then what would be my “vested interest” in helping a group to reach for “acceptable” worship?


    • Brian Casey 11/14/2013 / 8:40 pm

      Dear Bill, I’m responding to your last comment in a new post that will go up in a day or three. I hope you’ll read it and continue the conversation if you want!

      Here are a couple of preview comments/responses:

      I was mainly trying to say that it is a logical and biblical mistake for anyone to think that everything we do is worship. (Hebrews 12:28 speaks of something related, but different; I of course have no quarrel with anything biblical.)

      As for the part of my post that dealt with preachers’ vested interests, it was definitely, intentionally targeted at a group, and I’m not of the mind to apologize for criticizing something sincerely believe warrants criticism. However, I could have been more clear about what I was *not* meaning to criticize. Your role in particular would not be one I would care to criticize.

      You are my dear brother, and I believe in you as you follow the Christ. I just don’t believe much in the systems I see. More in the full post — probably tomorrow, or maybe I’ll “weigh words” a bit more first. 🙂


  3. Bill Mcgee 11/16/2013 / 12:41 am

    I think the key to breaking up the current “systems” in place is helping people in the pews better understand this topic we are discussing. People who have the greatest opportunity are people like me who have a regular voice. This will take a long time to accomplish. I love the church and enjoy the opportunities I have been given by God of moving His story forward and helping His people discover the joy of what you and I are discussing. I enjoy your blog because you devote lots of space to the issue. I am following what you are saying and see your point regarding Rom 12. I guess I am getting curious as to when you would say worship is concluded and when it begins? My reading of the end of Heb 12 and beginning of 13 leads me to a conclusion that worship that is acceptable now is in our giving over to Philadelphia and Philoexenia etc. which is serving (in a sense) it is definitely active so when we are not living out these Heb 13 actions we are not in worship… Is that what you mean? Please don’t think that your words would impact what we have developed over the years or what Christ so sacrificially united. We will never agree on everything except Who’s our Lord and who He says we are to love! I love the journey together with brothers like you because together we can better understand truth (His Word) than by ourselves! Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts.


    • Brian Casey 11/16/2013 / 10:33 am

      Bill, a brief, responsive post went up last night, and I’m finalizing a longer installment that may go up later today. Yes, the “voices” must be regular to have impact. There are all sorts of voices, and I am not at all hopeful that any of us have any lasting impact, which is one reason I am heartful about the cry *marana tha.*

      But what do you mean “please don’t think [my] words would impact . . .”? Did you really mean to say that? I certainly hope to have impact, and I hope you do, too. If we don’t have any impact at all, we both need to quit!

      Heb. 13:15-16 mirrors Jesus’ articulation of priorities — 1) vertical and 2) horizontal. I don’t know that Heb. 12:28 or Rom. 12 or Rev. 5 or any other passage is concerned with when worship begins and ends, so to speak. Worship may indeed occur *in the heart *of someone who is not worshipping observably, and I’m thrilled when it does. I am interested in tidying up definitions, not calling something “worship” that isn’t worship, toward the end that more intentional worship will occur — and more service, too. When service is called “worship,” it may (likely) be pure carelessness or ignorance, or it may be something more, in a few instances. This latter eventuality is what I was getting at with the “vested interests” thing. More on that in the follow-up post to come later today or tomorrow.

      A quick answer re: *philadelphia *and *philexenia *is that those things are by definition not proskuneo but are smack-dab in the middle of the sacrificial, serving, Jesus-style life. Being engaged in those things is therefore not worship per se, but, according to Paul’s symbolism in Rom. 12 (and it’s usually dangerous to read one author into another, but I think we both have a good enough acquaintance with the big picture for me to do this here), those horizontal things become, in a sense, “worship.” The quote marks are key in understanding here. In no way does what I am saying minimize the showing of love; it just defines the terms.


  4. Bill Mcgee 11/18/2013 / 12:00 am

    These words below are aimed at the friendship and bond you and I share in Christ. I think you misunderstood my use of “impact.”

    “Please don’t think that your words would impact what we have developed over the years or what Christ so sacrificially united. We will never agree on everything except Who’s our Lord and who He says we are to love! I love the journey together with brothers like you because together we can better understand truth (His Word) than by ourselves! Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts.”

    I do not want you to think that anything you would say would hurt our friendship.


    • Brian Casey 11/19/2013 / 8:27 am

      I absolutely did misunderstand. I read the first sentence as saying “Please don’t think you’re going to make any difference in the church that has been developed over the years.” (And that was so weird.) Thanks for clarifying!


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