Monday, September 20, 2010

The heart of worship

"I'll give you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within through the way things appear, You're looking into my heart."

These are some pretty profound lyrics by Matt Redman, from his song, "the heart of worship."  They challenge the idea that worship is merely singing songs about God, which, right or wrong, is what worship is often thought of in our day. 

But any good worship song will have more than just a catchy tune; it will be based upon good solid biblical theology. And that is the case with this song. Romans 12:1 states:

"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship." (HCSB)

Prior to this passage, Paul spent a great deal of time reminding us how great God's kindness is toward us, that through faith in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of our sins. So in light of this, he tells those who have been made new in Christ that our only reasonable response to God is to worship Him for what He has done for us! But how should we worship Him; how should we demonstrate our gratitude for such an extravagant gift that we are completely unable to repay? By living our lives fully surrendered to God, for His purposes, for His glory.

Is singing songs about and to God for 20 minutes on Sunday mornings with God's people important? Isn't that a way that we can worship God? An emphatic Yes, and Yes! But is it our spiritual act of worship? Well, not according to this passage in Romans. In this passage, Paul is reminding us that in light of what God has done for us in saving us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our only reasonable response is to worship Him through the lives that we live, fully surrendered to Him! 

So how do we do this; how we learn to do what is holy and pleasing to God? Paul tells us in verse 2:

"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 (HCSB)

Renewing our mind is the key. Without consistent quality time with God in His Word, our mind begins to fail us, forgetting what God has revealed to us in the Bible, how significant those discoveries are to us, and provide clear reasons to remind us of the hope that we have, and how great a joy it is to live fully surrendered to the King of Glory, Jesus Christ!  It is through the proper perspective of seeing the life we live as God sees it, which we discover by the regular and frequent renewing of our mind and enabling of the Holy Spirit to perceive how His Word applies to our lives that we are able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

From this proper perspective, we are able to realize that our obedience to Christ, our pursuit of His righteousness in our life is our spiritual act of worship. From this perspective we also discover that this obedience to Christ also includes being faithful stewards of all that God has given us, including our time, our talents, our abilities, our giftings, and our resources as He has given us.

So, if you are gifted in writing, your spiritual act of worship would include writing as God leads you. If your gift is in listening and encouraging people, then you are worshiping God by simply doing what you were created to do. If you are a parent, then you are worshiping God by raising and training up your children in the Lord. And be sure of this, parenting children is tough, and sometimes we don't really want to be parents. But when we choose to embrace this role and refuse to give in to frustration and impatience and choose to love and lead our children, we are offering our bodies as living sacrifices and worshiping our loving Creator.

If we offer our "living sacrifice" begrudgingly, out of a heart of obligation, we forfeit the opportunity to offer a true spiritual act of worship. God is no fool. He knows when we are faking it, and when we choose to surrender our will to His. What a blessing it is that the Holy Spirit resides in us, enabling us to do what our flesh refuses! For it is only by His Spirit in us that we are able to live from a pure and holy heart that's greatest desire is to honor and glorify the One who made it, who gave His life to save us!