Monday, June 1, 2015

Lifestyle Worship

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Romans 12:1-2)."

These two passages have a deep but practical meaning to them. Our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and decisions are visible signs that point to what influences us. The way we choose to live, the way we make decisions, the things we care about, and the way we define ourselves, are all indicators of what we deem to be the most important in life. If someone took an assessment of our attitudes, thoughts, and decisions for the purpose of trying to figure out what drives us as individuals, we would probably be rather embarrassed. 

In the passage above, Paul is making quite a statement. How we choose to submit our lifestyles and what we choose to submit to, is actually worship.  When my thoughts, emotions, and choices are driven by the fear of what other people think, then I am worshiping other people. When my life is being driven by the pursuit of creating an image for myself, by the drive for success, fame, and glory; then I am worshiping myself. When I limit my language, my actions, my interests, and my interactions to what is normal/expected then I am worshiping the culture. 

Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world. . . there are many, many, patterns of this world that we are influenced by, but we don't need to be. A lifestyle of entertainment, a perpetual attitude of entitlement that leads to complaining, or justifying compromise because it is just 'human', are all ways we conform to the pattern of this world. We are prevented from breaking those patterns by the fear of what other people think, the expectations we have built in ourselves about the way things 'ought' to be, and our relentless insecurities that tell us to lie low, stay comfortable, fit in, or strain for achievement. 

You see, worship isn't just about singing songs that have words of adoration, true spiritual worship is when we conform our lives to His. It is the practical human reality of how we function, how we think, and how we decide to live that is worship. It is about how we 'present our bodies as living sacrifices'. We worship what we submit our lives to. It is one thing to set aside time to 'worship' God; it is another reality entirely to worship Him by changing the way we function on a fundamental level.

That is why John drew such a hard line in one of his letters; "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them (1 John 2:15)." Certainly that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the world. God has given us the beautiful gift of creation, but there is a difference between using and enjoying the world, then being owned and enslaved to it. We are meant to be above the ways of the world even thought we choose to participate in them, unfortunately we are often victims to it's patterns, attitudes, and expectations. 

There is one mentality that is detrimental to our understanding of worship. You see, we often live with a dualistic perspective, we live life as if the secular and the sacred are separate from one another. Jesus, in the incarnation, united the physical and the spiritual.  Our time with God and our worship of Him cannot be minimized to a once in a while, in church, 'i'm going to worship', experience. God is everywhere, and we can exalt Him in our lives by how we live and how we function in this world. It isn't what we do in public that reveals the most about our connection and worship of God, but what we do in private when no one is looking.   

Decide in yourself what kind of person you want to be. What sort of relationship with God do you want to make a priority? Will it be the sporadic kind, where you 'go to worship' once in a while, or will your life take on the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ as your entire being is influenced by who He is and what He has revealed to be true about reality?