Look closely at the picture above. Just look. Intently. I’ll tell you more about it at the end of this post.
Carole Sparks is our guest today. I came across Carole in my feeds because of her inventive- funny- attention grabbing headlines! I mean how can you not open The completely not-boring history of the Bible, then I really read her posts and I’ve loved it. If I wrote about Psalm 8 , would you read it? Probably not, but if I titled it If the mouse was King of the jungle, would you click on it? Most likely. That’s what Carole did. (Seriously! Click on the link and you’ll read about what she learnt from Psalm 8, there’s some very important truths in that post). So I’ll let Carole tell you what worship means to her and how she makes worship of our Father her lifestyle.
Carole is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com, or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
As much as I am tempted to sleep in on Sunday mornings, I love worship time with my church. You see, we lived in a place without churches or church services for more than six years. Our corporate worship time involved gathering in the living room with some praise choruses pulled up on a computer screen. I think God was honored in those moments, but it was nothing like adding your voice to a few dozen (or a few hundred) other believers, singing out in praise and accompanied by talented musicians. Corporate worship and preaching fuel me for the week ahead.
But Sunday mornings are not the only time I worship.
Christ brought in himself the sacrifice of God for us and our sacrifice for God. For us there remains only the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in prayers, hymns, and in a life lived according to God’s commands (Psalms 15 and 50). So our entire life becomes worship, the offering of thanksgiving. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (pg. 41).
I have learned that worship shouldn’t be a noun. It’s not a person, place, or thing; it’s an action. Sometimes it’s an active verb, like on Sunday mornings when we worship together. And sometimes it’s more like a state-of-being verb, a mindset that pervades everything else.
This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Roman Christians,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. –Romans 12:1
That phrase, “living sacrifice” sounds like an oxymoron (like “jumbo shrimp”). A sacrifice, by definition, is killed—whether it’s a lamb, a dove, an ox, or something else. Even the grain and wine sacrifices of Numbers were poured out and burned up. They were completely given over to God. To be a sacrifice but continue living must mean we are wholly devoted to God—like the sacrifices on the altar…but without the fire. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when Paul elsewhere describes our lives as a pleasing aroma (2 Corinthians 2:14-16. Note that God is the one pleased in that verse, not other people.). Like the burnt offerings, which smelled like grilling steak in the backyard on a summer evening (Exodus 29), our lives—our whole lives, not just our Sunday morning lives—are to swirl up toward God and delight Him. In Paul’s eyes, this life-lived-out is real worship, not the processionals into sanctuaries, the rituals of religion, or the observances of rules and regulations.
If you’re not yet convinced, look on down through Romans 12. Paul doesn’t talk about proper ritual procedures. Like any good middle school essay, Paul backs up his thesis (v. 1) with three examples: humility, spiritual gifts acted out daily in the body of Christ, and love. These are essential to a life of worship, and they happen alongside everyday occurrences.
And so we are called to live a life—all of life—in this merger of the sacred and the secular, to consciously worship continually until an attitude of worship infiltrates every aspect of life.
Nearly three hundred years ago, a monk named Brother Lawrence learned to focus His mind on God’s glory and presence even as he went about the ordinary tasks of life. He was a cook, not a worship leader, and yet every aspect of his life felt as if he were kneeling before the throne of God. He wrote about it in The Practice of the Presence of God. What a model for us!
But how? How are the everyday tasks of life worshipful? It happens when your focus is not on yourself or even the task at hand but rather on God’s glory in and through that action.
If all that a believer does grows out of faith and is done for the glory of God, then all dualistic distinctions are demolished. There is no higher/lower, sacred/secular, perfect/permitted, contemplative/active or first class/second class. Calling is the premise of Christian existence itself. Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. –Os Guinness (quoted here by Paul Sohn)
See how Guinness removes that distinction between times of worship and the rest of life? He would say our primary calling is to glorify God, and our secondary calling is to our vocation or even simply the task at hand. That secondary calling must take place within the primary calling.
What does that mean, practically?
- Filling a work order is worship.
- Answering an e-mail is worship.
- Changing diapers is worship.
- Waiting on a red light to change is worship.
- Playing softball is worship.
- Of course, sharing Christ with your friend or coworker is worship.
- Any act of obedience to God is worship, even—perhaps especially—grabbing a cup of coffee with that friend who needs a listening ear.
- And yes, singing out loud to God along with a bunch of other people is still most definitely worship, if your attitude is right. So is singing praise songs (or old hymns) by yourself in the car…or the shower.
I plan to keep my Sunday mornings like they are for now: studying God’s Word and praising Him with other believers. But by focusing on God’s glory throughout the day, I’m working to make the rest of my week just as worshipful as Sunday morning.
Did you like the post? I hope to have more guest blogs here on worship, so you can see how and what that looks like for different people. I hope you will remember that anything ( and everything ) you do can be an act of worship to the One who created us if there’s a proper attitude involved. One of humility and repentance. Anyway I pray that He becomes more real to you, every day, every minute and you spend your life in His presence. Let me know what worship is to you.
See you next week,
(PS Carole took the featured image. Did you see what it depicted? It’s taken at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Athens, Greece and Carole loved the interesting light, the images shown and how the picture just speaks worship)