In Rev. 4:11, the ground of worship is “because” God created all things. In Rev. 5:9 worship happens “because” (NIV) the Lamb was slain. In Rev. 11:17 the reason worship happens is “because” (NIV) God has begun to reign. While often translated “for” in English, all three verses use the Greek word hoti, which means the reason or the basis upon which an action is taken. God is worshiped “because” of what He has done. God is the focus of worship, and worship throughout the Bible is talking about, singing about, repeating the acts that God has done (Deut. 26:1-11; Psa 66:3-6; 78:5-15; 111:4). Worship even includes acting out the events of the cross through baptism (Rom. 6:3-4) and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:26). Worship in the Bible is not about us, our feelings, or our duties. Worship is a recital of what God has done.
A corollary of this theme is the impact of worship on the worshipper. While worship itself is God-focused, it also has a powerful impact on us. The core principle here is that “we become like the God we worship.” Worship is focused on God, yet it changes us more than it changes Him. If our picture of God is arbitrary, severe, judgmental, and cruel, we become more and more like that. If our picture of God is kind, gracious, loving and forgiving, we become more and more like that. So worship is rather critical to the formation of human character. But since true worship is God-focused, the key to character formation is the kind of God we believe we are worshipping. So a right understanding of Scripture and the God portrayed there is vital in shaping the kind of person I am becoming.
On the other hand, “me-centered worship”, which focuses on my needs and what I am supposed to do, is virtually guaranteed to shape us in a twisted fashion. Behavioral scientists have noticed that extrinsic religion, which is performed under a sense of obligation or to please another, tends to be a negative for mental health. In contrast, intrinsic religion, which is performed joyfully out of inner conviction, has many benefits for mental health. So is worship good for us or bad for us? It depends on what kind we practice. One of the key factors in young people choosing to stay in the church is whether or not family worship was fun and interesting. If worship is something we choose to do because we want to, it is also good for us. If it is something we do because we feel we have to, it has a negative impact on health.