17 December 2017

Worship with our lives

When you hear the word worship, what does it mean to you?  People who don’t have any particular faith in God might see it as something that religious people do in Churches or Temples.  They maybe imagine the use of candles and incense or chanting and ritual.  In many cases they see it as something done over there in a spiritual place, not here in their ‘normal’ existence.

A Christian might say, “Well, worship is what we do on Sunday morning at Church before the sermon.  We sing songs, that’s our worship time.” What about you?  What would you say that worship is?  My hunch is that the notion of worship from where God sits is so much broader than any narrow view people might have about it.  For God, worship is not just some religious ritual, nor some musical event but something much more.

Worship should be a way of life.

You know, when we worship someone or something we put them or it above all other things.  We pay homage to the object of our worship; in fact it directs our lives.  We will sacrifice other things, even those that are very dear to us, for the sake of the thing or the person that we worship.

And we all worship something.

I used to worship money and success and recognition. These were the things that made my whole life go round.  My life was centred and ordered around those things.  I sacrificed my health, my family, my rest, everything for these things that I worshipped.  Actually, when I look back, I was really worshipping myself.

We can all look at our lives and ask, “What’s at the centre of my life?  Who or what do I worship?”  We will know the answer to that question when we look at the sacrifices we make and ask ourselves, really and truly, “Who or what am I making the sacrifices for?  Is it my career?  Is it my family?  Is it earning more money and having a bigger house?”  We should honestly ask ourselves, “What is at the centre of my life?”  And to figure it out we just have to look at the sacrifices we make and that’s who or what we’re actually worshipping.

We all have lots of aspects to our lives and obviously we need to make some sacrifices sometimes.  For example, being a parent, by definition, is about making sacrifices for our children.  Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for our jobs or careers but day after day, month after month, is there one thing that keeps rising above all of those others in terms of sacrifice?
If there is, chances are that’s the one that we’re worshipping.

The notion that sacrifice is an essential part of worship is not something new.  The very first time that the word ‘worship’ is mentioned in the Bible is the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham was a man whom God called out of his comfort zone.  He brought Abraham on a long journey that started out when he was already an old man.  God promised Abraham that he would have many descendants.

Well Abraham and his wife Sarah were really old and they still didn’t have a single child to their name.  They never thought that it would happen, that they would have an heir, but this was God’s promise.  You see, we can think we’re worshipping God but then you go and look at your life and you ask some hard questions.  How do I spend all of my time, my money, my energy, my passions, my dreams?  And like Abraham we might get a real shock, let’s read on:

“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed in on his son, Isaac and he himself carried the fire and the knife.  As the two of them went on Isaac spoke up and said to his father, “Father?” “Yes my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and the wood are here” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  And Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son.”  And the two of them went on together.”

“When they reached the place that God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.  Then he reached out his hand and took a knife to slay his son but the angel of the Lord called to him out of heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on this boy. Do not do anything to him because now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22 v3

What God was doing here was testing Abraham’s heart.  “Abraham, who do you worship?  Who do you put first in your life, Me or your son?” Now we might think this is just a bit extreme but I have to tell you, when I had to stop worshipping myself, to give up this whole career and wealth and recognition thing, can I tell you?  That was not an easy thing to let go of.

When God comes along and finally tugs on our hearts and says, “Do you realise you’re worshipping something else?”  it’s almost impossible to admit, let alone let go.  But at the end of this extreme trial, both God and Abraham knew the answer to the question, “Who do you put first in your life?”

“The angel of the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your only son.’”

Can I ask you quietly yet deliberately?  Who or what do you worship?

When it comes to the crunch, the one thing on this earth that is most important to you, would you be prepared to lay it down for the Lord your God?  All your hopes, your dreams, your future, your life, your career – everything!

Is God exalted above all other things in our lives?  Because worshipping God is about adopting a ‘God above all’ position in every part of our lives.  Singing songs of worship is great, but do we bow our lives down to God before anything or anyone else?  In our hearts, do we truly worship God?

Worship is about a whole lot more than some religious rituals or just singing songs.  The crunch question is, do we worship God with our lives?

Berni Dymet