from Not for Itching Ears blog by Jim
We love to discuss those things we are passionate about, don’t we? Be it our favorite football team (THE Washington Redskins), politics, sports, movies, cultural issues. Heck we even argue about beer! Remember the Miller Lite commercials? For years, Miller Lite drinkers, including the likes of Rodney Dangerfield and John Madden, bickered back and forth on our TV sets. The argument? What made Miller Lite such a great beer. Some said the drink tasted great. Others said it was less filling. Though they were very entertaining commercials, it makes one wonder: Don’t we have anything better to discuss than beer?
Of course we do! Over here at Not For Itching Ears, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about a topic that is higher up the food chain: Worshipping God. If you read these posts (millions of people do each hour), then you know I have been searching and studying and thinking out loud a lot lately. I don’t know why. Everywhere I go, every conversation I have, many of the sights I see cause me to reflect on what it means for a Christian to worship our great Redeemer. The two facts that seem to be fueling this journey are these: 1) Worship, generally, is not a song we sing, though we can worship God while singing. 2) The church seems to be defining worship as a song we sing. I think that approach is crippling the church and robbing God of true worship.
Is worship a song that is well-sung or is it a life that is well-lived?
The Bible teaches us that true worship involves the laying down of our lives, and everything that entails. In turn, we offer our lives back to God, to be lived for Him, His glory, and His alone. Scripture is full of admonitions like the one Paul gave the church at Ephesus:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life WORTHY of the calling you have received.” Eph 4:1 NIV
This word “worthy” literally means “to bring up the other beam of the scales” so that things are equal. If you put a pound of tomatoes on one side of the scale and a one pound weight on the other side of the scale, the scale will be even. If everything is working the way it was designed to work, the scale would be perfectly level. That is the idea here. The Ephesian believers were being exhorted to conduct their lives in a way that matched or equaled what they professed. They were being exhorted to live out their faith. We might say they were being told to practice what they preached. With our mouths we say we believe in the Gospel, will follow Christ anywhere, and want to love Him out loud, but do our lives balance that out? Or, is one side of the scale higher than the other? That’s what Paul is talking about here
The more I consider worship, the more I realize that this is EXACTLY what worship looks like. It is a life laid down. You and I proclaim God’s worth in every choice we make. Let’s face it, living for Christ 24/7 is no easy task. Life is full of temptations, large and small. Every moment of every day we are bombarded with situations that cause us to choose who we are living for: Ourselves or our God. When we choose to follow God and obey His word, we are declaring that what He values is what matters. We are professing with our deeds that His way is worthy of following. Isn’t that the essence of worship? The overwhelming weight of scriptural testimony leads to only one conclusion: Worship is not what my mouth says, it is what my hands do. At least, thats what God seeks in a worshipper.
When I put my own life on that scale to see where my life stands, I don’t like what I see. Like the Ephesians, I need to be reminded that my life should be spent following the master. To worship Him, we should strive to live lives that are worthy of the King and his message.
Isn’t THAT much more involved than simply singing a few songs?
If you are a worship leader and / or pastor, I hope you can make room in your life to ponder what is being said here. This week, as you prepare for services, seek to incorporate prayers, scripture verses, songs and other elements that will help the congregation “bring up the beam” in our lives. Can I encourage you to be less impressed with the newest hit “worship” song and more focused on those worship elements that have the capacity to empower us to live for God out in the real world? That’s what we desperately need, but we don’t know how to verbalize this to you.
Of course, many will counter and say that worship can be both a life well-lived and a song well-sung. Just like Miller Lite could be both great tasting and less filling. And I agree! However I believe the church would do well to emphasize the true character of worship: a life laid down. When the body of Christ becomes gripped by this understanding of worship, the Gospel will spread like wildfire.
For more on this topic see our post “Worship: Why Your Church May Be Failing and What You Can Do About it”
Filed under: Discipleship |