Defining Worship: Worship as Everyday Life
- Saturday, October 11, 2003
In 1997, after being a pastor for 12 years, I had the opportunity to take a position where my main role involved equipping and training worship leaders and musicians both in my local church and the 50-plus churches related through Sovereign Grace Ministries. Soon after my arrival, I realized that much of what I had been teaching about worship was drawn primarily from my own experience and the experiences of others. When I did use verses from the Bible in leading worship, it was usually to support what I was already doing.
As I dug into Scripture, I began to see that my view of worship were focused almost entirely on the singing portion of Sunday mornings. Books like Engaging with God by David Peterson and Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem helped me understand that our worship of God not only extends beyond singing, but involves every moment of every day.
In this series, we've seen how the Bible speaks of worship as exaltation, expression, encounter, and event. All of these are contained, however, in worship as everyday life.
There are many Scriptural references to worship as a lifestyle, but the best-known may be Romans 12:1-2. "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Paul is taking Old Testament language here and applying it in a new way. The sacrifices that please God are no longer bulls, rams and sheep, but our very lives. Of course, animal sacrifices were never meant to replace humble devotion to God, but were to serve as an expression of it. Psalm 51:17 reminds us that "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
We typically think of giving our hearts to the Lord in worship. Here God has Paul intentionally use the word "bodies." In his commentary on Romans, John Stott explains, "Paul is clear that the presentation of our bodies is our spiritual act of worship. It is a significant Christian paradox. No worship is pleasing to God which is purely inward, abstract and mystical; it must express itself in concrete acts of service performed by our bodies."
In other words, worship isn't something we simply feel. Worship isn't the name we give some experience that we seek while singing, lifting our hands, or closing our eyes. It's something we DO with our bodies in all of life. We can worship God through our eating, drinking, typing, speaking, cooking, driving, and countless other ways. We worship God whenever we perform an act out of a desire to draw attention to His greatness, especially revealed in sending His Son as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
I've often heard someone who is an expressive singer described as "a real worshiper." Whether or not we are a real worshiper is better determined by how quickly we forgive those who have offended us, how we handle our finances, and what we do when no one is looking.
When we become Christians, we automatically become worshipers of God. The rest of our lives is simply a brief preparation for what will be an eternal occupation: giving God grateful, wholehearted worship which will never be exhausted, even in eternity.
May God give us the grace to get a good head start in giving Him constant, complete, and passionate worship.
All We Long To See: All We Long to See is the ninth release in the Come & Worship series from Sovereign Grace Ministries, and builds on the modern worship sound that has attracted national radio exposure for previous projects in the series. The focus of each new song on All We Long to See is a life lived for Another--for the One who died, and rose, and will come again. From the opening declaration of "Jesus, My Only Hope," to the closing celebration of "The Audience of One," these songs bring a message that help us experience and express the glorious mystery of the Savior. Available on Sovereign Grace Ministries Webstore.
A Passion for the Glory of God Worship Conference: This conference seeks to combine theological training with practical equipping to serve both worship leaders and worship teams. The main sessions this year will explore Worship: What Really Matters (Bob Kauflin), Worshiping the God Who Creates (Craig Cabaniss), Worshiping the God Who Redeems (Mark Altrogge), and Worshiping the God Who Is Here (Bob Kauflin). The seminars will address songwriters, sound teams, musicians, and worship leaders. The conference will start on Thursday October 16th, and conclude on Saturday, October 18th. The full schedule is available, as well as links to registration, information on lodging, and a full list of speakers.
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