Summary: Worship is an act of total commitmentresulting in a life which is continually transformed
Day of the Living Dead
Soren Kierkegaard described Christian worship as a performance in which God is the audience, the congregation is the performer, and those who stand up before the congregation (preachers, readers, choir, soloists) are the prompters.
Someone has suggested that the popular mentality of American Christians changes it around so that those who stand up front are the performers, the congregation is the audience, and God is, at best, the prompter.
Every week we come to worship services. This morning we will take a closer look at what worship is.
The Imperative of Worship
The dividing line between those who belong to God and those who don’t has always been worship
Those who know God, worship Him
Those who love God, worship Him
Those who have received that free gift of salvation – the gift Jesus paid dearly for, but which He gives away for free – those who are saved, worship Him.
This is not just a New Testament idea.
The first of the 10 commandments tells us to have only one God, and the second, not to worship any idols
It’s clear that the Bible teaches that worship is critical to being one of God’s people. So what is worship? Could you give a definition if you had to? We refer to the hour we spend together on Sunday mornings as “worship.” So is going to church synonymous with worshiping God?
In the Old Testament, worship had to do with the sacrifice of animals (as well as grain and other non-animal sacrifices)
This was not something unique to the Jews: all ancient religions offered animal sacrifices to their gods.
It was a way to atone for sins committed
A way to make oneself pleasing to God
When, in the New Testament, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, there is no longer a need for the blood of animals to be shed to cover sin.
Jesus’ sacrifice paid the price for our sins.
Now think for a minute: if all of your life, worship was synonymous with animal sacrifice,
What is worship if you don’t need to do that anymore?
Our passage this morning tells us that:
Worship is an act of total commitment
Do you know what the difference is between involvement and commitment? Just look at a plate of ham and eggs. The chickens were involved; the pig was committed!
Unlike Paul, and everyone else in Paul’s time, we didn’t grow up seeing animals sacrificed as a part of worship
On the rare occasion we hear of some cult performing such rituals, it’s offensive
But in order to get the impact of these verses, imagine for a minute that whenever you heard the word “sacrifice,” you didn’t think of giving up chocolate, you thought animal sacrifices.
Now you’re sitting in church and listening to a letter the great Apostle Paul has sent to your congregation.
And you hear these words, “I am urging you brothers, present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice.”
I think my blood would have run a little cold!
My feet might have run out the back door!
I really don’t like hearing “my body,” and “sacrifice” in the same sentence!
When the title for this sermon popped into my head, I hesitated to use it.
It sounds kind of creepy
Kind of sensational!
More appropriate for a horror movie
It doesn’t sound like the kind of thing nice people say in church – especially in reference to preaching God’s Word!
But I couldn’t get away from the idea that every 1st Century reader or listener would likely have gotten the same sense when they heard “offer your body as a living sacrifice.”
In the 1st Century, a sacrifice was something that started out alive and ended up dead.
Now Paul says, “We don’t sacrifice animals in our worship. In our worship, YOU’re the sacrifice!”
Maybe your mind flashes to the Old Testament story about how Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac, but God stopped him.
Still, you don’t really want to be laying on that altar hoping God will stop the knife!
But then you think, “Wait a minute! He said a living sacrifice. What does that mean?”
To someone of that time, the phrase “living sacrifice” was an oxymoron,
Like jumbo shrimp or old news or Microsoft Works.
Whatever else may be going on in your head, Paul has certainly gotten your attention.
What is this “living sacrifice” which is “the true worship we should offer”?
In our day, when we talk about worship, we often mean, “Speaking or singing words of praise to God,”
What is the relationship between that and what Paul is saying here?
When we praise God, we are taking the time to focus on various aspects of His nature: