Some churches are highly interactive between worshipers in their worship services while other churches prefer to go vertical and focus only on Jesus. Some might argue that one model is to be preferred over the other, but I argue for both. In fact, I see corporate worship looking in three directions: up, around, and within.
My model for this comes from the worshiping seraphim at the throne of God. Here’s how John described their worship: “The four living creatures,each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Rev 4:8).
The seraphim are preoccupied first with God. They gaze unceasingly upon His holiness as they worship. What a fabulous occupation!
Secondly, the verse says they “were full of eyes around,” so while worshiping they are also looking around at all the sights of the throne room.
Thirdly, the verse says they were “full of eyes…within.” Part of their gaze in worship is inward.
Just as the seraphim look up, around, and within while they worship, so do we.
Our primary focus in worship is to go vertical and gaze in amazement upon the Lord. We bless Him and minister to Him (1 Pet 2:9). We bask in His presence and encounter Him personally. We talk to Him and He talks to us. We’re entirely distracted by the glory of who He is, and are careful to let nothing distract us from the privilege of standing before Him and pouring our affection upon Him. Worship isn’t worship unless we first of all look up.
But worship doesn’t stop there. It also looks around.
Corporate worship doesn’t block out everyone else and everything else that’s around us, as though to pretend no one else is in the room with us. Rather, congregational worship is delightfully aware of the other worshipers in the room. Worship brings us together in true spiritual unity. Worship services actually give us opportunities to minister to one another. We speak truth to one another in the lyrics we sing (Eph 5:19). We encourage one another to magnify the Lord together (Ps 34:3), and we advertise the fame of His name with our songs.
But worship doesn’t stop there. It also looks within.
Corporate worship does things within us that catch our attention. We find ourselves liberated on the inside to exalt Him with greater abandonment. We find ourselves becoming better equipped to express the true feelings of our heart to Him. As we magnify His greatness, faith fills our hearts and surges within. We realize that the holiness of God is actually bringing us into holiness as well. Our hearts open in preparation to receive the preaching of the word. It’s amazing, while you’re worshiping, to look within and actually see the ways He’s changing you into the image of Christ.
When you join God’s people in exalting the name of Jesus, therefore, let your heart go in three directions. Set your eyes fully on Jesus; enjoy your brothers and sisters who are worshiping with you; and delight in the good things God’s doing within you.
Look up, look around, and look within.
This blog is adapted from chapter six of Bob’s just released book, EXPLORING WORSHIP, THIRD EDITION.