Friday, February 17, 2012

Choosing to Worship God

"Jesus declared, 'Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.'" ~John 4:21-24, (emphasis mine).

I have often said that the purpose of our lives is to glorify and bring attention to God. In short, that essentially means to live a life that pleases Him. It means to live a life that praises Him. It means to live a life that worships Him.

Now you may be thinking, Hold on, I thought worship was that style of music we play in church? Not exactly. See, in America we've taken something that's supposed to be a lifestyle and turned it into a form of music. We look at people like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and David Crowder and we call them "worship leaders" just because they lead us in songs of worship. We look at the songs they write and call them "worship songs." But is that really what "worship" is? It's a style of music? No, it's not. And that should make sense, right? Because if the purpose of our lives is to worship Him, then the only way we'd be able to do that is to sing worship songs continuously until we die or until we lose our voices. And that definitely isn't what Jesus meant.

So then what is worship? According to the dictionary, worship means "to show profound religious devotion and respect to; to be devoted to; to have or express feelings or profound adoration; to honor." In other words, what you worship is what you live for. To worship something is to be committed to it above all else. To worship something means to honor it above all else. It means to be devoted to something more than anything else. When you worship something, you deem it more important than anything else in the world.

That's how you worship God. You honor Him above all else. You revere Him above all else. You respect God more than anyone else. You're committed to Him more than to anything else. You're devoted to Him more than to anything else. You love Him more than anything or anyone else.

Now the thing is that God isn't the only thing we can worship. We can worship other things in place of God. Instead of worshipping my Father, I can choose to worship myself. I can choose to worship money, power, romance, sex, my reputation, a religion, the approval of others, a sport, a career, a person, or any other thing in my life. That isn't what God wants; He wants us to worship Him. But He is so loving that He allows us to choose what we worship. God doesn't wind us up like little robots to show Him love and affection; that isn't true love! He gives us the freedom of choice because He wants our worship to be true and authentic. And so He gives us a choice. We can worship God or we can worship something else.

Now of course, should we choose to worship something or someone other than our Creator, there is a price. When we alienate ourselves from God, then we're choosing to be lost. We're choosing to belong to Satan. We're choosing to spend eternity separated from God, burning in hell. We're choosing to be spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb. We're choosing to be spiritually naked.

Psalm 115:4-8 says, "But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." Those who make them will be life them, and so will all who trust in them. Wow. So when you choose to worship something or someone other than the God of Israel, you are choosing to be like the false idols described here. When you choose to trust in, to honor, to be committed to, to revere something or someone besides my God, you are choosing to be spiritually mute, blind, and deaf. You're choosing to not be able to smell, to feel, to walk, or to speak. The Bible says that those who don't follow Christ are spiritually dead. That sounds like an accurate description to describe someone who worships a false idol. When you worship something besides God, you're choosing to not be alive. You're choosing death over life.

So then, the opposite is also true. When you worship the one true God, you're choosing to be able to speak, see, hear, smell, feel, and walk. You're choosing to be alive and to be free. You're choosing to put your hope in Someone who has your best interests at heart. You're choosing to trust in the One who created the heavens and the earth, and to entrust your life in the hands of the One who died for you. You're choosing to follow the One who has plans for you, who will give you a hope and a future, and who has plans for you to prosper and not to come to harm.

God offers all this freely. We don't have to do anything to earn this gift, and it's available to anyone who asks. But of course, you can't receive this gift and continue to live life in the dark. You can't become spiritually alive and still live like you're dead. I mentioned earlier that the Bible says that before you follow Christ, you are spiritually dead. It also says that when you follow Christ, you are born again in the Spirit of God and are a new creation, a new person! In Romans 8, Paul covers extensively how when you're a child of God and born in the Spirit, you'll live according to the Spirit; you'll be living to please God. And when you are controlled by the sinful nature, when you aren't a Christian, then you won't be living to please God.

In Romans 12:1, Paul says, "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." Did you catch that? Our spiritual act of worship is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. That means our spiritual act of worship is to continuously deny ourselves to do His will, to please Him, to worship Him. Romans 8:13-14 says, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."

The purpose of our lives is to bring glory and attention to God. The purpose of our lives is to worship God. What are you worshipping?


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about this! I also pondered if people really know the difference between the practice of worship and actual worship. It's not about the feeling or the music, it's about the heart.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and thanks for this encouraging post :)