What is worship?
Whether you realize it or not, that is one of the most important questions the human race can ask itself: and that’s because it addresses the very purpose for which we were made. If we are “good fundamentalists” we are well acquainted with the fact that worship is our essential purpose: this is expressed in our declaration that we are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as our chief end. Our lives whether we are conscious of it or not, are acts of perpetual worship.
So, if glorifying God is our chief end, than that encompasses so much more than questioning whether to go with Isaac Watts or Hillsong United (I’m struck in the middle of the spectrum. On my good days). If that is it, then we vividly demonstrate the worth or worthiness (worship) of the object as nothing more than having sway over our Sunday morning choices. No; it reaches down into every aspect of the way we live our lives.
Now, if our life worship is to be centered around a person, (namely God), is it not logical to say that such a Person has a right to dictate the way in which we express His worth?
In other words, how are we to live?
Obviously, the answer we all know is to live like God: fleshed out, that means living like Christ. To truly live thus, we have to live according to the principles on which Christ based His life: being Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
This is the answer to the original question in my post, because it too addresses the very reason for which we were made: God made us for outward relationships of love; He made us to live outwardly, first and primarily for His glory, and secondly, flowing organically out of the first, for the good of our neighbor. Sin essentially teaches us to direct our lives inward. We were made to live outward, God-ward: sin comes in and from the first seeks to set self up as a god (Gen. 3:5). God calls us to live our entire lives as last rather than first: we are in all things to consider the good of others above our own, and to consider others as better than ourselves. Sin comes and demands that we follow the “basic principles of survival”: to fight to the top, to place ourselves above our siblings, our spouse, our employers, brothers and sisters at Church, and every orphan and widow we might be “guilted” into giving a dollar.
So from the very first temptation, sin is demanding that we give up the glorious life of worship to which God has called us, and eternally water-board ourselves in a cesspool of self-ward living. Such a lifestyle binds our hands against the joy and happiness which was ours from the first and which came from living our every moment as an act of worship to our Creator. Worship and sin are antonymous, save for the worship of self and all the things that will make self happy that sin brings with it. When we rebelled, we essentially looked at the life of Service-Worship that was laid before us, and bid it to hell, and bit the fruit.
Ever since, we have been held back from this freedom of a life lived completely as worship by an inward principle that demands self-gratification, and we cannot free ourselves, no matter how many church services or christian concerts we attend,and certainly no matter how many humanitarian efforts we engage in. We are it seems happily bound to a secret self-seeking behind it all.
There are so many definitions of sin, but to lend aid to our gazing on the glory of the Gospel, a good one is that which is stated above: sin sets us up against our original purpose of living outward lives of service to the glory of God: and in binds us to an inward living, inward gazing for the glory of self.
If such is our problem, what is our hope?
Wrong question. Who is our Hope? The scripture answers that better than I. In the very place in which we are given one of the most famous injunctions to live outward, we are given Hope in the one Who “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,”. Not only in Christ do we have a glorious pattern set before of God-ward, neighbor-ward living, but we have the perfect life of worship which we could never accomplished live on our behalf; we cannot free ourselves from our enslavement to self-ward living, but Christ, by virtue of the imputation of His perfect, lived-out righteousness to sinners has justified us, and when we are justified, we are no more slaves. We are completely and totally liberated to turn outward. We have the Gospel brought before our eyes by the gracious working of the Spirit and we are given grace and glorious incentive to our lives completely for the glory of God and the good of others.
Throughout the Old Testament, particularly in the Prophets, as well as in the Gospel, God reminds His people that in the midst of their great concern about the outward forms of Worship, that they mistake the form for the real life of worship. In the Old Testament, and in the Gospels, God shows real worship to be,
1) in the Heart, in our constant consecration and re-consecration of our thoughts and loves to God, and our living in constant, wonderful, happy admiration of His Person;
2) socially, in our care for the widow, the orphan,the stranger, and our service to our neighbor as we live our lives for Him.
(Scotty Smith talks about this kind of worship in a sermon better than I could. Drop me a note and I’ll e-mail you the link)
The second aspect of our joy in the freeing work of Christ is that He promises to restore all things, and to create a new heaven and new earth, in which our entire lives shall be unadulterated worship of our Creator and Redeemer. And the worship in which we engage on Sunday mornings is but a shadow of the freedom we shall enjoy in that place.
That’s a thought that should stir us to worship filled hope as we strive to live non-introverted lives day-by-day.