“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). 

This verse is so pregnant with meaning there are many angles one could take in explaining its ideas. I, however, would like to reduce it to a simple discussion of the connection between “the word of Christ” and the essence of worship. Given that worship is not an event but a lifestyle (see Romans 12:1-3) we must individually and corporately understand its components. Interestingly, despite the “worship wars” that are raging in local churches today, there is no definitive New Testament description of the proper model or form of worship. Paul here, however, captures a much more important idea; the essence of worship. 

First, it is Christ-centered. When Paul instructs the church at Colossae to let the word of Christ fully dwell (which means “to feel at home”) in them he was talking about something dynamic and transforming. He’s referring to all Biblical revelation of the person, work, character, and mission of Christ and how it impacts all facets of our being, especially our heart and mind. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Notice that the word spirit has a small “s”. It is referring to our hearts being engaged in true worship along with our minds (“truth”). There is nothing clinical or sterile about letting the word of Christ consume us.

So, despite our shallow modern tendency to teach and admonish one another with comfortable messages on successful living (some have called this the church’s “poverty of Scripture”), Paul says the essence of worshipful teaching is being saturated in the truth of who Christ is. It is the exhortation of all wisdom regarding our Lord and Savior. Christ, the Alpha and Omega, is the beginning and ending focus of all God-honoring worship. True worship involves the continual renewal and cleansing of the mind so that we might think as Jesus thinks. Worship engages the mind and thus affects our attitudes and behaviors. Although it should engage our emotions, it is not built on pure emotionalism alone. We are to worship Him “in spirit and truth.” Therefore God’s Word concerning Christ is always the foundational principle that guides us in all of our endeavors, including worship. This is why C. H. Spurgeon once quipped, “For every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say ‘Now what is the road to Christ?…I have never yet found a text that had not a road to Christ in it.” 

Secondly, true worship teems with praise for Jesus. Paul is alluding to this when he says, “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” True worship is bathed in the sincere humility of a servant. It is not about show but about subservience to God and service to others. This type of paradigm is fueled by the gift of faith that He has given us to see Him in all of His glory and respond accordingly. True worship is derived from the ongoing perspective of God’s underserved mercy towards us. A sense of His greatness and goodness must be the prompter of a transformed existence of perpetual reverence towards Him. The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (12:28). Thankful hearts are evidence that we richly understand, embrace, and adore Jesus in all fullness!

Thirdly, Christ-saturated worship is not limited to a set time or place. What Paul describes here can happen alone or when you and your family fellowship because, “…where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). Why? Because worship is not an event but a perpetual act. It is part and parcel of who we are in Him. It is the daily transformation of a life, moment by moment, spent honoring Him with our hearts, heads, and hands of Christ-exalting service. Let’s not think that worship as just an experience or a church service (or even a Christian concert) but, instead, a lifestyle that projects the glory that He is so worthy of. It is a holy, servant-oriented, and love-saturated expression of His greatness and beauty. And, in an encouraging way, this kind of true worship is but a precursor to an eternity of adoring Him. Listen to John describe the scene of never-ending worship:

“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:9-11).

Are we ready for this kind of worship? For those “in Christ”,  this is our destiny. And, if we  are not experiencing some expression of this type of Christ-honoring, Christ-centered adoration, today is the day to ask Him to give us a heart and life that reflects his infinite worth! Today is the day to start practicing what we will spend all eternity doing – worshiping the Word, Jesus (John 1:1).

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