At the beginning of the year, God presented me with a challenge to live a life of worship.  

I knew immediately He was talking about something more than just going to church and using the worship service time to meditate on Him or trying to learn something new from the sermon. Those aren’t wrong, but as I began to study, I found that there is much more to worship than singing, praising, and even praying. They are pieces and parts of the whole, but not the whole. 

I have been leading worship at my church for over 20 years now.  By leading worship, I try to make it as easy as possible for the congregation to open up and engage with the Lord.  When I was young, I spent as much time as I could in my bedroom, just me, my guitar, and the Lord. If you have ever experienced an encounter with the Lord like that, you understand the peace that it brings.  It doesn’t really matter how crummy of a day, or week, or month you are having. In that moment, it all vanishes.  There is hope when otherwise I am totally lost. There is peace when I am totally confused, conflicted, agitated and in despair. There is love when I feel none. How is that possible? God would choose to spend His time with me?  That blows my mind.  As if that were not enough, He is here saying, “Hey, there’s more. Do you want it?”   

I began to evaluate my definition of worship.  I was surprised at how narrow, shallow, and limited it was.  First off, when you drive by every church sign out there, it usually gives the time of the services for that church.  Worship services are at such and such a time.  Is that the only time we worship?  I’m not opposed to setting aside a designated time to worship the Lord. In fact, throughout the Bible we see where this idea is supported through the celebration of different feasts and even setting aside a day of rest on the Sabbath.  But now, sometimes it seems like it is a day to go to church, be dismissed in time to beat the other churches to lunch and make it home in time for football.

Second, is listen to the prayers at the beginning of the worship services.  They are probably very similar to mine.  “Lord, I thank you for all your blessings.  I pray that You come here and be with us now.  Let us experience Your love and Your presence.”  We are ready to receive from Him.  I might even go as far as to say, we expect to receive from Him.  The problem that I have with this is that we tend to check the boxes but fail to really access the Lord, unless we are in trouble. Then, it’s me again Lord, I gotta problem that I can’t solve. But what do I give back in return?  How does that help the relationship?  If I went to my wife every day and said, “Hey Babe, I’m hungry. What are you cooking for me?”  Without doing something for her in return, I might be sleeping on the couch until one of us decided to move on and leave the relationship. Our relationships stagnate without reciprocation.  

I searched for scripture about worship.  The very first scripture to appear with the word was in Genesis 22:5. It reads: “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass: and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”  Well, I will tell you that Abraham didn’t grab his guitar from his pack, take Issac to the top of the mountain, take his flip-flops off, sit down crisscross applesauce, and start singing “Kumbaya.” When he said they were going to worship, he meant they were going to sacrifice Issac on an altar. Abraham acted in obedience to what God had told him to do. Is God who He says He is? Does He keep His promises?  Is there anything or anyone above God?  This day, Abraham’s faith and resolve were tested.  And he called that worship! 

Then I asked myself, “How did Jesus worship?”. After all, we are to pattern our lives after Christ. Would He not teach us how we should worship? The only band I found Christ getting together was full of outcasts, publicans, and sinners.  And the band he formed didn’t perform with smoke, lights, and popular music. In fact, I found that the only time it was mentioned where Jesus sang was when he celebrated Passover right before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane before He ultimately laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice and atoned our sins. (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26)

If singing songs is the most important aspect of worship, why are we not given more examples of Christ performing it? Instead, we see Christ preaching, teaching, and constantly reminding the people that He was here to the do the will of the Father.  The band of disciples that Christ put together went out to change people’s lives, to free them from the bondage of sin, and to guide them to a life of righteousness.  He was engaged with the people around Him, investing in their lives. His life was filled with passion, purpose, and commitment. And that is worship! 

What does it mean to live a life of worship?  As we can see from Abraham and Christ, their acts of worship weren’t showing up to church on Sunday, sing some songs for 30 minutes, have an emotional encounter with the Lord, get their “fix,” and do nothing the rest of the week until it was time for their “fix” again.  Don’t get me wrong. This time we spend during church is crucial in our relationship with the Lord.  I’m just suggesting that this is not enough. It can’t be enough.  A life of worship is completely surrendering to God’s will just as Abraham and Christ did.   It is walking in faith believing that God is who He says He is, that He keeps His promises, and that there is no circumstance greater than He is.  It is seeking that time with Him as often as possible. It is singing praises. It is encouraging others. It is being an example of Christ to others. It is praying for others.  It is trying to make someone’s day a little better.  It is asking God, what can I do for You today. 

Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  

If I have offended you with my views of worship, I am open to an honest discussion.  I believe today’s church needs to put Christ back in worship and stop imitating the world. Concerts are fine, but don’t disguise them as worship.  The Church needs to be an example for the world, not the other way around.  Worship is about the time that we engage with Him on a daily basis.  Just as He came in the cool of the evening and spent time with Adam and Eve.  I must do more than hold my hand out and say, “Give me.”  I have to give back to Him, whether that is praise, thanksgiving, attitudes, works, prayer, meditation, reading the Bible, or paying tithes. I want to quit putting my relationship with God in a box to access it when it is to my benefit. Worship is how we build our relationship with Him.  Worship is living a life of service to Christ. I challenge you to join me in deciding how we live each day.  Do I occasionally and casually worship the Lord, or do I live a life of worship?

— Written by Lee

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