The word worship can mean a lot of things in our world. I want you to pause for a moment and get a picture in your mind that makes you think of worship.
What did you come up with? For most people, the word “worship” brings up images that have to do with one of three things:
Now, while I would have to agree that each of these could be one example of worship, we have to be careful not to let that image (or whatever image came to your mind) become the sum whole of what worship means to us. Worship is so much more than a single action. Worship is what I do with my life.
What does it mean to say that worship is what I do with my life? Does this mean that God wants me to be at every church service possible? And when I can’t be at church, should I always be singing Christian songs or perhaps bowing down to the east? If so, that’s going to make for some awkward moments at the office. I can see it now. I call a meeting for everyone in the conference room. When the team arrives, they find that the tables have been removed and the chairs have been replaced with 3′ x 18′ rugs. At start time, I ask them all to grab a rug, take a knee and sing along with me…
…maybe I should give it a try. Even so, this is not what I mean when I say that worship is what I do with my life.
As we read the history documented in the Bible, it’s easy to see that the Old Testament Israelites understood worship as a way of life. Not only did they visit the tabernacle – they offered sacrifices to God; they held special feasts in honor of the things God had done for them; they carried passages of scripture in their jewelry; they acknowledged God in prayer; they went on journeys to places considered holy; they sang praises to God (many of which are recorded in Psalms). Though they were far from perfect and made many poor choices, worship was definitely an active part of every aspect of their lives.
Does this mean that we should go back to doing all of those things? Probably not. I don’t think God would be honored if you went home and offered pet fluffy up as a blood sacrifice or burnt offering. Times have changed, but the fact that worship can be a part of every aspect of our lives has not changed at all. In fact, we’re not the first people who have dealt with this. Paul had to help some of the earliest Christians in Rome with this same thing. Rome was a very modern culture for its time. All of the things that the Israelites did were already outdated and didn’t make sense as a way of life for them. So Paul offered a timeless concept for worship that still applies today.
After reminding the early Christians in Rome of just how amazing and merciful God is, he said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV)
So, what’s Paul saying here? What does it mean to offer your body as a “living sacrifice”? Well, I know one thing. A major difference between the sacrifices of the Old Testament and this sacrifice is one key word – LIVING. To be a living sacrifice means to submit yourself to God; to live a life that honors Him. A living sacrifice does want to attend church – because we enjoy the opportunity to learn and hang out with like-minded people. A living sacrifice does sing praise songs – because of what God has done for us. A living sacrifice does spend time in prayer – because we want an authentic relationship with God. But even beyond the “churchy” things, a living sacrifice wants to do all the things that honor God. Things like being kind to others, giving your best at home, growing intellectually, honoring authorities and so much more. This is how worship becomes more than going to church, singing Christian songs or bowing down. Worship becomes a way of life…
Worship is what I do with my life.