By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
When you think of worshipping God in heaven do you get excited and full of anticipation or are you in some ways dreading what might feel like a really long, boring church service?
If you still think of worship as a 20-minute singing session once a week at church that you’d at times prefer to skip, let me offer a different perspective. Based on Scripture and the words of Jesus, heaven – and the worship we’ll be doing for an eternity – is a lot more exciting than you might have thought. And if you and I get a glimpse of what true worship of the Almighty God looks like here on earth, we’re in for a breath-taking experience when it comes to what heaven has to offer.
What will worship look like in heaven? It will consist of a lifestyle as natural as living, as essential as breathing, as enjoyable as thriving.
Worship Will Be God-Centered
We often take God out of the concept of worship and insert ourselves by the way we use the word itself. For instance, have you heard others – or yourself – saying things like:
“Where do you worship?”
“Did you attend a worship service today?”
“I skipped worship and just came for the sermon.”
“I prefer contemporary worship.”
“I don’t like how they do worship.”
As if worship was ever about us and our preferences. As if it was ever an adjective for a kind of service or music or pastoral position.
Worship is the acknowledgment of God’s “worth-ship” and the expression of adoration for Him. It is something God deserves from every one of us. In heaven, worship will be all about our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. It will be about His preferences, not ours. We will be privileged participants in proclaiming praise and glory to the only One worthy of praise who gave His life for ours so we could spend eternity in communion with Him. Because we will no longer possess a sin nature (we will finally be complete in Christ), our critical hearts will be transformed into hearts of praise and the focus will be solely on Jesus and Who He is and what He accomplished for us by God’s grace. No longer will there be discussions – or differences – on what type of worship we like. Your offering of worship will be absent of you and all about Him.
Worship Will Be Heartfelt
Have you ever wanted to engage in praise and worship, but your heart just wasn’t in it? Maybe you were later convicted by going through the motions. Or perhaps you have, at times, been engrossed in worship but then eventually noticed others around you were stiff and motionless, like observers or outsiders, rather than participants.
While we think we sometimes have to be in the mood for worship, heaven will offer us something we’ve never personally experienced here on earth: God’s physical presence. We will literally behold His glory. And if you know what it’s like to be at a revival service or on a spiritual mountaintop, or even on the floor of your prayer closet, experiencing the awe of the presence of God’s Spirit, then you’ve had just a glimpse of the heartfelt worship that will happen in the literal presence of God.
When the Prophet Isaiah saw the Lord “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple,” angels were standing above Him covering their faces and feet while flying, calling out to one another “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies. The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-4 NASB). And this act of worship caused the foundations of the thresholds of the temple to shake and the temple to fill with smoke.
If you’re thinking that would be a fearful sight and experience, consider that Isaiah was still a sinful man when he saw that vision of the Lord. We will be perfect and complete in Christ (by His atoning sacrifice) when we stand before the Lord in heaven and His presence, although still mighty, won’t signify judgment toward us, but amazing grace and love. Worship flows from the awareness of Who God is. And your worship in His presence will be far more wonderful than anything you have ever imagined or experienced. We will be absolutely amazed at His holiness, and it will be expressed in our adoration of our Lord.
In his book, A Place Called Heaven, Dr. Robert Jeffress writes, “In heaven, no one will merely mouth the words or go through the motions of worship; all will sing with hearts ablaze…worship in heaven will be spontaneous, genuinely exhilarating.”
Will we be led or instructed in worship as we are in our churches today? It’s uncertain. But my belief is no one will have to tell us how and when to worship. It will be as natural as the air we breathe.
Worship Will Be Unified
John describes in Revelation 7 this glorious vision of what worship in heaven will be like:
“I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all the tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches in their hands; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
“And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen” (verses 9-12).
What a glorious picture of unity across the world among every nation and language. It will be possible in the presence and worship of Christ in heaven.
Have you ever been in the midst of thousands of people worshipping God all at once? Suddenly you didn’t feel like a minority in your faith, did you? In fact, you probably felt strengthened and empowered by hearing so many other voices around you lifting up praise to the Most High God. The number and the sound of the worshippers in heaven will be so far beyond anything we’ve experienced before.
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Worship Will Be a Way of Life
We were created to love God and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, when we get to heaven, worship will be a part of our everyday enjoyment of God and being in His presence. Serving God will be a form of worship.
According to Jeffress: “While worshiping God will be a central activity in heaven, it will not be our only activity. Just as Christians today can offer praise to God while engaging in other tasks throughout the week, Christians in the new heaven and new earth will worship God during special designated times as well as while involved in other activities.”
Work has always been – and will always be – part of God’s plan for us. While we work to earn a living here on earth (but also to glorify God by doing what He has called us to do) we will work in heaven to fulfill our purpose and glorify Him as well. But, even though work on this earth (while it can be enjoyable at times) can be exhausting, work in heaven will be exhilarating, Jeffress claims.
Worship Will Be Constant and Consistent
First Corinthians 10:31 commands: “Whether, then, ye eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That means worship of God should take place as we sit down to eat, talk with a friend or spouse, play with our children or grandchildren, perform a project at work, drive to school, or enjoy a vacation. It means being in a continual state of praise, regardless of what we’re doing. And if that is our guideline for how to live here on earth, then surely in heaven it will be the same, only easier for us because we won’t have temptation or sin to distract us. We will be in a constant state of praise to God whatever we are doing.
Worship Will Be Creative
God is a creative God. He’s not one to settle into a boring routine or do things monotonously, legalistically, or without passion and imagination. Jeffress writes: “If life in the Garden of Eden serves as a template of what we can expect in heaven, then we can look forward to an eternity cultivating and creating.”
Worship Will Be an Expression of Our Intimacy with God
Jesus defined eternity by summing up the supreme goal of human existence: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). And the Apostle Paul revealed the one overriding goal of his life – both on earth and in heaven – “That I may know Him…” (Philippians 3:10). In heaven, we will truly know the living God and spend eternity reveling in that knowledge and wonder of being intimate with the Almighty.
Therefore, our level of worship here on earth will prepare us for even more fulfilling worship in heaven. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly [who Jesus is], but then face to face; now I know in part [the greatness of His character], but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” Much of our worship will stem from true intimacy with God – at last. And it will take us eternity and longer to express the joy of that.
Worship Will Be Enjoying God’s Presence
In Psalm 16:11, David said, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Here on earth, worship ushers us into the presence of God whom we can’t yet see or touch. David knew that as we worship Him we find joy because we are getting in touch with who He is, who we are, and why we were created. Imagine the utmost joy, then, when we can behold His presence and dwell with Him not just spiritually, but physically! In heaven, we will experience a complete fulfillment of who we are and why we were created because we will be in His presence where joy exists.
So how can you get into worship-shape for your eternal home one day? Start living in awe of His worth-ship and seeing every moment of each day as an opportunity to praise Him for Who He is and thank Him for all He’s done. It will prepare you for a lifetime of doing the same.
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Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is also a mother, pastor’s wife, and author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.