Summary: True worship is a total giving over of oneself in every aspect of our life to God. Our life is to be seasoned with worship, but what is it and what does it accomplish? What is my part and what is God’s?
Worship – Part 1
We are about to begin a journey of study into the character of some of the key people revealed to us in God’s Word – people who were significant in His story; people whom He used in a variety of ways with a variety of results. One very striking factor is common with each and every one of them – they were worshipers; their lives were centered on true and regular worship of God. We will also be studying some individuals whose character was not godly, whose lives did not center on the worship of God. For now, I want to focus on the first group.
Abraham built altars to the Lord on a regular basis. Enoch walked with the Lord and the Lord took him heavenward without his passing through death. Rebecca’s first sight of Isaac was of him worshiping in a field. Daniel’s habit of worshiping God three times every day took Him into and out of the den of starving lions. Paul and the Apostles gave themselves over to prayer and worship of Jesus Christ. The list goes on.
Paul is the first person whose character we are going to study, so I want to look at something he wrote that gives us insight into his view of worship.
We are admonished by Paul in Romans 12:1: "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable [well-pleasing] to God, which is your spiritual [reasonable] service of worship."
Romans 12:1 gives us a basic springboard for understanding of where true worship begins. As Jesus defined worship to the Samaritan woman at the well as recorded for us in John 4:20-24: "’Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’" Jesus said to her, "’Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’"
True worship is a total giving over of oneself in every aspect of our life to God. Think about the things that you give the most thought and consideration to throughout most of every day – personal comfort, personal pleasure, and personal well-being. That is why we work, that is why we sleep, that is why we eat and watch the shows and movies we watch. That is why we choose the entertainment that we do. Personal comfort, personal pleasure and personal well-being are the underlying motivations for what we choose to do and to not do, to give and to not give, to keep and to not keep, even to feel and to not feel. Our responses to life’s conditions and circumstances are also motivated by our sense of personal comfort, personal pleasure, and personal well-being…our bodies, as Paul reminds us.
Some might instantly object and say, “Are you saying that I should just ignore my needs? That would be poor stewardship.” Balderdash!
The truth of it is that this is just another excuse for selfishness and feeding the PIG (Personal Instant Gratification). Ignoring one’s needs isn’t really the issue at all. It isn’t the real question. No one with any real sense is going to ignore their needs. The real questions at issue are, “To what extent will we go to over-meet those needs? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to meet that ‘need’? Is it really a need, or simply a want?” We must also ask, “What is our focus and purpose in what we do and why?”
See, the unfortunate thing is that many of us approach worship with the same mindset and underlying motivation as the rest of life – we come to “worship” expecting to get something out of it, expecting to come away feeling good, feeling peaceful, feeling happy. We think worship is for us.
God’s economy is the opposite of the world’s economy.
What we are supposed to do if we are worshiping God “in spirit and in truth” is come expecting to encounter, to come face-to-face with, the Holy, Almighty, Pure and Righteous, Omnipotent God who judges all. We need to come with the knowledge and understanding that we are sinners and that we are allowed to approach God only by His grace through Jesus Christ, not through any goodness on our part. Expect to be broken.
We need to approach God from the standpoint that we are in desperate need of His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, His cleansing, His purifying, His restoring, His strengthening, His equipping, His empowering, and His continued will in and for our lives.