Summary: Worship happens on Sunday. What we do Monday to Saturday is our own business. Or is it? How does God see worship? What does it mean to life a lifestyle of worship.
Worship as a Way of Life – Sermon for CATM
April 20, 2008
[Introduction involved powerpoint images of people engaged in acts of worship and then engaged in everyday things. The congregation was asked which images they thought represented worship and which didn’t]
Our Scripture today is from Romans chapter 12. As the Scripture is read, consider that this chapter is really all about worship.
12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
So the conversation here is really about worship, which is of course a spiritual thing, but which impacts everything in our lives.
Commonly, we think that worship is something we do on Sundays. What happens in this place once its converted from a gym to a sanctuary is worship. Hearts and minds focussed on God. Hands raised to the Almighty. Prayers said. Songs sung. Sermon preached.
The problem with that understanding is that a) it suggests that there’s one day in the week where we really tend to the things of the spirit and b) it suggests that other days are for living life ways that can be and often are pretty detached from worship. Other days are not for spiritual things.
12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
You know, there’s a problem with the word ‘spiritual’. When we say that this and this and that are spiritual, we’re saying, in our language, that other things are not spiritual.
It’s interesting to note that in the language and culture of God’s chosen people, in the Hebrew language, there is no word for spiritual.
Is that because they were unspiritual? If you know anything about the Jews of biblical times or modern times, you know that there’s nothing unspiritual about God’s people. There is just NO WORD for spiritual in the Hebrew language. That’s because EVERYTHING IS SPIRITUAL. Life as intended by God is an integrated whole.
Even when the New Testament in the Greek seems to refer to separate aspects of our being; for instance when Jesus says in Matthew: “"’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”, it’s only to call us to NOT segment ourselves. Your whole self…heart, soul and mind work together as one. And our bodies too.
That’s why this passage says that we are to offer our bodies to God AS A SPIRITUAL ACT OF WORSHIP. Every part of you is intended for God, to honour God, to worship Him.
That’s why the Scriptures call us to holiness of body…to take care of our bodies as holy things; to not give our bodies over to unholy things that defile us.
That’s why Hebrews 13: 4 says that “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral”.
God doesn’t say this because He’s a kill joy. He calls us to holiness of body because he knows that we are only truly free when ALL OF US is free. And of course our sexuality impacts our spiritual life most profoundly. That’s because EVERYTHING IS SPIRITUAL.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Paul starts to unpack what it means to understand our whole selves and our whole lives as worship. The main thing he says here is this: You can’t honour God, you can’t worship God and at the same time walk in lock-step with what the world views as normal.
Living for God is not normal. Sorry to disappoint you if you thought it was. Living with the intention of pleasing God on HIS terms is not normal.