Homage as a Way of Worshipping God

Article by Rev. Jose Oliveira, M. Div.


Years ago, when still living in my country, Brazil, I heard for the first time a song of worship which has touched my heart very much over the years. The song is called “To God be the Glory” and the chorus repeats: “To God be the glory for all He has done” [1] .When I came to the United States to study for my Masters, I took a class on Worship, and in the final paper I presented a concept of worship as “Tribute”, reminding me of that song, which official title in English is, “My Tribute”. My paper even though being from a student, received a laudatory assessment from the teacher, saying it had “merit”, that is, which was substantiated and arguable. I do not think the concept as original, because if it were I would not have found it in a song translated into Portuguese. But I think it is close to one of the concepts of what worship really is. However, after years of thinking about the concept of “tribute” in itself, I noticed that it contains certain aspects that differ from the very nature of “Worship” as, for example, the connotation of being a “compulsory payment” to a government or ruler. So, in searching for the application of this word “tribute” that best fits the true sense of worshipping God, I found out that worshiping God is basically “homage to God.” Therefore, in this opportunity I would like to examine worshipping God as homage, since homage includes those meanings that impressed me so much in the concept of “tribute”, but leaves out the compulsory sense.

Firstly, worship God as homage means recognition that He deserves our adoration. Homage is made to recognize the merit that a person has in his personality or his work. Unlike tribute, which expression includes the sense of obligation, homage is a voluntary act from having knowledge and a relationship with the honoree, in the case of God, to worship Him by making Him homage to honor him, arises from contemplation and communion with Him in sense of exaltation. To adore God is to recognize that his person and his works are incomparably perfect, and this awareness causes in us a desire to honor Him of our own free will. Homage is perfectly applicable to God mainly for its voluntary aspect. If someone asks demands or requires to be honored, the real value of such homage is lost in this request. God does not ask or require our worship, but He accepts it, and rejoices with it, when sincere and genuine offered to Him. Worship is not compatible with the feeling guilt or obligation that may reside in the worshiper. Such feelings taint the genuine worship, because their primary motivation is not God, but the feeling of obligation that is installed on the worshiper. The contemplation of the person and the works of God can produce a genuine feeling of gratitude in the worshiper, which God certainly accepts, but the purest worship comes from an overwhelming sense of admiration for the person of God.

Secondly, to worship God as homage is a result of a personal relationship with God. Although God may be viewed as much more than one person, because he is the Center and Source of all that exists, he certainly revealed Himself to his creatures primarily as a person in the figure of a Father. God, in his infinitude, may have non-personal relationships with non-personal beings, and they also worship Him, first, with their simple existence, and perhaps in other ways that only God can understand. However, it is through our personality, that we, humans, worship God – as persons. God created us in His image and likeness, as persons, so we could relate to Him in a personal way. To render homage to God in worship, as personal beings, means that we use the faculties of our personality to worship Him. Before anything, we worship with understanding. Although we do not understand everything about God, what we do understand is sufficient to produce in us the desire to worship Him. Also, we adore Him as individuals, that is, as unique beings, distinct from any other in the universe. God does rejoice in receiving the worship of each of His sons and daughters because each one of us is an unique being in His presence. Finally, to worship Him as persons means to offer Him a free worship, i.e., spontaneously originated in our free-will. Worshiping Him must be a free and personal choice of the individual. To homage God as a person, can only happen in the context of a personal relationship. Without a personal communion with God, there can be no genuine worship.

Thirdly, to worship God is homage to God without trying to get anything in return. Retribution is, nonetheless, an universal law. This is stated in the law of physics that says, “every action provokes a reaction of equal intensity.” But in religion, many have used the concept of retribution as a trading strategy in which the religionist, through his or her devotion, expects to receive in return a blessing from the deity that is being worshiped. Genuine worship is not compatible with this poor concept of adoration, for authentic worship expects nothing in return; even the pleasure of worshipping in itself, which, though present in the process, should not be the reason of worship. Worship seeks nothing but the exaltation of the person of God. Homage to God as a form of worship particularly fits this purpose because in the same way that to require homage perverts the meaning of it, so the expectation of any kind of retribution for the homage offered invalidates it as a real honor. God is not going to say “thank you” for our worship, because he asks nothing and needs nothing, so the worshipers should expect nothing of their worship – it is, in itself, sufficient. The worship of God, as an homage should be selflessly, with no second-intentions or pretensions. So when we worship God, we should refrain from making petitions – only praise.

It’s wonderful that we can worship God in this way, consciously, personally and selflessly. And so we can because we were created by God with this capability. God did not create us because He had any need, or because he wanted to be worshiped by his creatures. God is absolutely sufficient. He does not need our worship, but, interestingly, He accepts it and rejoices with it. So if there is a purpose in worshipping God, this should be to please Him, and this is not limited to time and places designated for what we call worship, but must be practiced at all times by a sincere desire to please God in doing His will.

Worship is one of the topics widely studied in the Illinois Theological Seminary in various disciplines, but especially in the Bachelor of Theology, the student will have opportunity to take a class called “Liturgy” in which the theme of “worship” receive special attention. Worship is a very important theme in the theological study. If you would like to know and learn more about this, consider studying at Illinois Theological Seminary, by clicking the link below:


[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LswSDn7q3xQ&feature=related


One response to this post.

  1. […] This Christmas season go the distance and the follow the Father of Lights. Give homage to Him with our equivalent of gold – our stewardship, frankincense – our righteousness and myrrh – our perseverance. Our homage is the worship filled glory and honor we give to God without asking for anything in exchange [Homage as a Way of Worshipping God, Rev. Jose Oliveira, M. Div.]. […]


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