Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (10)
What is God worth to you?
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12.1, 2
The meaning of worship
In the Christian community, we traffic in some very familiar terms, some of which, I’m persuaded, we have no idea what they mean.
Take “praise”, for example. Have you ever been in a prayer group where the leader says, “Let’s spend some time praising the Lord”? And then every prayer that’s offered is some variation on, “Lord, we really just praise you”?
Or we say that we want to know God’s glory, but we don’t realize just how weighty a request that is. We just want to say something nice about the Lord; but He wants to crush the sin and unbelief out of us under the weight of His holy magnificence and irresistible power. In the Scriptures, people who were exposed to the glory of God were terrified. Some never wanted to see it again. Others didn’t know what to do. Most just covered their faces and turned away out of fear.
And then there’s “worship”. Worship is something every Christian does, every week, or at least, mostly. But ask a believer to define “worship”, and their answer will probably sound something like, “Well, you know, worship.” They might go on to mention the elements of worship – prayer, singing, preaching, and so forth; but these are not worship per se, but only the means by which we worship God as a community.
The word worship derives from the word “worth” and the suffix “-ship”. Worth refers to something of great value, or someone whose office and/or character make them worthy of respect, admiration, deference, submission, honor, attention, and obedience. The suffix -ship denotes a quality or condition, a status or office, or skill in a certain capacity. God is worth-ship. He is of a quality, condition, and status, and He does all things exceedingly well, so that He is worthy of our complete, total, unreserved, and continuous admiration, praise, respect, honor, and obedience. Worship is what we give to Him Who is our Worship, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
A life of worship
We tend to think of worship as an activity reserved for certain times in the week, Sunday morning – or, increasingly (why?) Saturday night. If we’re really spiritual, we might try to have a few moments of worship – our “quiet time” or “devotions” – at some point during each, or at least some days of the week.
Is that all God is worth to us? A tip of the hat on Sunday, before we rush home to indulge in a football game or head out to the mall? A nod Monday through Saturday, just to make sure we’re in good standing with Him before we ramble off to do our thing? Is that all God is worth?
We might think so. He does not. It is our reasonable service to worship God as living sacrifices, every moment of every day, in every thing we do – all our work, conversations, preparations, avocations, and other busyness. We live like, and are conformed to, the world when we act like large parts of our lives have been granted to us for some reason other than to glorify God (1 Cor. 10.31). Do we worship God with our work? With how we drive from here to there? With our studies? How we care for our home? What we read or watch or visit on the Internet? With our conversations? Are we worshiping God, acknowledging – by words and deeds – that He is all our provision, all our life, all our inheritance, all our hope, all our reason for being, and all our joy and delight? And that He is with us always?
Believers are called to a life of worship, in which we are conscious of God, and communing with Him, amid all the goodness with which He surrounds us, and as we reflect on and delight in His grace and mercy.
In worship on Sunday morning, we don’t leave much to chance, especially not the matter of when worship should begin. The call to worship gets our attention, cues us to open the hymnbook – or more likely these days, look up at the screen – and get ready to worship God.
All day long, calls to worship summon us from the Scripture and creation. As Hopkins wrote, “Christ plays in 10,000 places”, and He is playing before us in all His majesty, might, mercy, and marvelous grace at all times, beckoning us to pray, sing, meditate, share His goodness with some, rest our trials in Him, and otherwise acknowledge His unfathomable worthiness in everything we do.
Fuel for a life of worship
How do we get to the place where worship is not simply something we do at certain times, but it’s the way we use all the time of life in grateful devotion and joyful submission to the living God?
By increasing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, from His Word, from our diligent attention to His Presence with us in creation, and by taking to heart the promise that He is with us always, just as He promised (Matt. 28.20).
The more we increase in the knowledge of Jesus – seeing the evidence of His goodness all around us all the time, sensing Him growing within us, experiencing Him expressing Himself in our words and deeds – the more we will find the lifestyle of worship to be the very ambience in which we live, a spiritual envelope of continuous awareness and response. In Revelation 4 and 5, the saints worship God continuously, and we pray that that glorious Kingdom would come on earth as in heaven. Do we realize that we’re asking God to enable us to worship like that? Truly? Continuously? And at the slightest cue or call? With unbounding love and joy?
We are made for worship, for communing continuously with our Lord Jesus Christ. But we’ll have to work at it if we’re going to realize the full and joyous benefits of a life of daily, continuous, heartfelt, prayerful and songful worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. What does it mean to be a “living sacrifice”? Why is this “reasonable”?
2. What are some ways believers might acknowledge the worthiness of God throughout the day?
3. What kinds of things might function as calls to worship throughout the week?
Next steps – Transformation: Make today a day of continuous worship. What will you do? How will you prepare for it? How will you remind yourself to listen for God’s calls to worship? What opportunities might you have for worshiping with other believers? At the end of your day, reflect on this experience. Then repeat it every day!
T. M. Moore
One place to begin learning is in understanding the times and the world around us. Our book, Understanding the Times, outlines the broad scope of what we need to understand to live as witnesses in this secular world. Order your copy by clicking here. To see how and why the small stuff of your life matters, order a copy of our book Small Stuff (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- December 18, 2019
Worship is to be our way of life.
Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (10)