Summary: Worship is a lifestyle of devotion, service and obedience to God
40 Days of Purpose Week 2 – Worship
We were told last week that we were created to be loved by God and to be in relationship with him. The topic slated for this week is “worship”. We’re created to worship God. That’s our purpose. But what does that mean?
I have a sermon illustrations programme on my computer and I looked up “worship” this week and was directed to four different stories all of which centred around church music. At many churches, if someone refers to the “worship time” or the “worship leader” they’re referring to the time of singing in the service and the song leader.
Maybe when you think of worship you think of ancient pagan civilisations bowing down to some sort of idol. Maybe you think of chanting your way through certain church rituals, or taking communion.
Let’s read this short passage from Romans 12:
RO 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. 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.
Firstly, you’ll notice that our worship is always in response to God. “In view of God’s mercy – worship.” Paul has spent the first eleven chapters of Romans explaining how God has rescued us from the guilt, penalty and power of sin. He’s told us that it is only through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that we can be forgiven. And he’s told us that we don’t deserve God’s love, but that in spite of us, he has been incredibly merciful. And so, in view of this mercy, this amazing grace, we worship our great God.
God always takes the first step. He took the first step in creating us and he takes the first step in saving us through his beloved Son. Our worship – whatever our worship is, we still haven’t worked that out – is a response to the mercy God has shown us. You see God saved us from something – from slavery to sin, from the consequences of our disobedience, from judgment and ultimately from hell – but he also saved us to something. And that something is worship. He saved us to worship him.
But to answer our initial question – what is worship – the answer is both simple yet incredibly complex. It’s everything. Is music worship? Yes. Is taking part in a church service worship? Yes. Is getting up and having breakfast and going to work everyday worship. Yes, or at least it should be. In response to God’s mercy we are to offer ourselves, our bodies as living sacrifices – this is our spiritual act of worship. When you make a sacrifice, you give something up. That’s the very nature of a sacrifice. It’s a serious, costly gift. When we talk about making sacrifices, we mean that something substantial has been given up. Until I was about 8 or 9 my father was a high-powered business executive but he chose to resign and become a lowly teacher (!!) so he could spend more time with his kids. Some people talked about the sacrifice he had made for his children. Now I appreciate that sacrifice incredibly, but the sacrifice that God wants from us is much broader and greater.
Paul deliberately uses language in Romans 12 that will remind us again of the gift of God. The Father offered the body of Jesus as our sacrifice, and in view of that we too are to offer our bodies. We give ourselves up, we surrender ourselves utterly and completely and say to God “I’m going to give the control of my life and the purpose of my life back to it’s rightful owner – to you.” That’s what Jesus means when he says that unless we take up our cross and follow him, we cannot be his disciples. Unless we give ourselves totally, we’re not truly people of God.
The problem is, we often try to compartmentalize our lives. I go to church once a week, maybe a bible study, maybe I spend fifteen minutes every day reading God’s Word and praying, and that’s my worship. And then over here I have my career and over here I have my family time and over here I have my social life. No. God wants everything. He wants to be invited into every part of your life. He wants your worship to extend to every compartment.
There was a kid who used to come to JJs and who I teach at Peakhurst High who would give a lot of the right answers during Bible study, who would pray with us, and say he was committed to Jesus, but literally the next breath would tell us about how he was going to beat up this other kids because he had looked at him the wrong way. The compartmentalizing was so abrupt and so stark that they hypocrisy of it just stood out so clearly. His worship finished as soon as we had said amen. Our hypocrisy might not be so in your face, but it’s probably still there. Do we walk out of church and stop being Christians until we walk back in the next week? Remember, God wants our whole lives.