What comes to mind when you think of worship?
It’s probably safe to say discipleship is towards the bottom of that list… which is probably topped by “singing” or “music” or “praise”… or if you are really brave “hand-raising”. (Hopefully skinny-jeans didn’t make the cut!)
I’ll be honest… I tend to think of those things too. But what if worship was something far more important? What if worship stood for more than a song on Sunday? What if worship were life or death?
Worship Is Life Or death.
If you are a human and you are reading this, you don’t just worship… you are a worshipper.
Whether you believe in Christ or have run as far away from the gospel as possible, you are always worshipping something. More than that, you are becoming what you worship (Romans 12:2). Let that thought bake in your mind-oven for a moment.
Let’s back up for a second… If worship is so important then what is it exactly?
I think worship and love are two words that can be used interchangeably. You could say I “worship” my wife when I spend my time, money, and other resources to passionately pursue her… but most people just call that love. Worship is love, and worship happens when adoration and affection grow hands and feet. Worship Acts are the fruit of Actual Worship. In other words, you may say you worship one thing, but if your actions tell a different story… well, you get the picture. Like John Mayer eloquently wrote… “Love ain’t a thing… love is a verb.” (Trust me… I get the irony.)
Now fast forward to Sunday morning…
Have you ever walked into a worship service, and though you try with all your might, you just can’t worship?… You open your mouth, but the words you sing feel empty. The sermon just didn’t connect with you. You didn’t feel encouraged or just didn’t like the way that person behind you attempted to sing.
I Have Felt That Way
I’ve been standing behind a microphone leading God’s people in singing God’s glories and praises… and felt my heart drop like lead because I just realized… most of what I had just sung, I didn’t really mean.
By God’s grace I have learned to hate that feeling. It’s idolatry at it’s worst because the problem is never our ability to worship. It’s how good we are at worshipping the wrong things. And that road only leads to one destination (Romans 1:18-25).
James K. A. Smith addresses this issue in his book You Are What You Love:
“Since our hearts are made to find their end in God, we will experience a besetting anxiety and restlessness when we try to love substitutes. To be human is to have a heart. You can’t not love. So the question isn’t whether you will love something as ultimate; the question is what you will love as ultimate. And you are what you love.”
That feeling of restlessness is a gift God gave you when he made you in his image. Thank God that he doesn’t let you be satisfied in the things that betray you. You are meant to hold that cup of water in your hand and find a longing for the endless sea.(See Psalm 42:1-2)
We just get to attached to the cup sometimes… and God has given us another gift to help.
(Here’s the part where you come in…)
We Need Each Other
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
When we set our love and affections on the endlessly satisfying, beautiful God of the Scriptures and gaze headlong into the eternal weight of His glory and majesty on display through Jesus (Psalm 34:8)… He moves us to obedience and action. And that action is visible to others. This is where worship and discipleship collide, messy and wonderful.
When you let the riches of God’s loving kindness motivate you to look beyond your own needs and meet the needs of your neighbor… that’s worship. When you look across the isles and see a family giving their weekly financial sacrifice as an offering into the plate together… thats worship. When you sing as loud as you can, even though your heart is heavy with sorrow… that’s worship. (1 Corinthians 13)
That’s what worship is… but what worship does is discipleship.
Because someone is always watching… and you are always teaching them how to worship whatever it is you are worshipping.
Paul’s words to Timothy should be true for us today: “I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:16). So, as you worship God, take initiative to be a good teacher… Pull people in close and point them towards the glorious God who is making you new each and every day (Colossians 2:17). Teach them to sing, work, love, serve, and honor the Lord as you look for people to learn from. (Matthew 28:19-20)
And God’s desire is for that to be evident in us on Sunday morning and every other morning… For all eternity.
Worship is discipleship.
May God make it so in every person at Salem, until the King returns, or our race is run… Amen.