worshipwayoflifeWorship is at the heart of the Christian faith. We believe “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

One of the primary ways that happens is through worship. Since worship is such a vital part of the church, we are beginning the New Year with a preaching series on worship, “Worship Is A Way of Life.”

Anytime we hear the word worship, we usually think about singing, clapping, and praising God. Worship, of course, is much more than that. True biblical worship encompasses our entire lives. “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer” (Romans 12:1)

Worship in all directions. In order for worship to be connected with our “whole-life” it must look in three directions. Certainly, worship looks upward; we worship God when we focus directly on him. We also worship God inwardly, in the secret places of our mind and heart. And third, we worship God outwardly, by focusing on the people around us.

Worship looks upward. When we think about worship, we tend to think about the upward direction of worship – singing, clapping, and giving thanks to God. In Hebrews 13:15 the upward direction involves two specific actions: praise and thanksgiving: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Praise is simply recognizing God for who he is. Thanksgiving is praising God for what he has done for us.

So what do we do when things are not going well, when it is hard to feel thankful? One of the best loved sections of the Bible, Psalm 23, expresses King David’s praise and thanks to God in the face of want, enemies and even death. When we choose to believe that God reigns and that he is using the difficult circumstances of life to make us more like him and to bring him greater glory, then we can be thankful to him constantly, even while we’re going through the tough times.

Worship looks outward. Worship begins with focusing on God but it continues as we look at the people around us. God is worshipped, for example, when we share our faith with someone or in some way play a part in a person coming to know Christ. Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus makes clear that we love and worship God.

We also worship God when we help each other. Simply being a good neighbour can be an expression of worship. And of course, giving financially to support the work of the church or to assist people in need is a wonderful way to express our worship of God.

Something that we may not often think of as worship is being sensitive to our weaker brothers and sisters. Romans 14 encourages us to “live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall” and then goes on to say, “If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God.”

Worship looks inward. The inward direction of worship reflects our desire to live in a close relationship with God and our intention to please him in all we do. If our hearts’ desire is to please God, we can no longer enjoy our former sins. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” This refers to a change inside of us. According to Psalm 51:16-17, God wants a broken and contrite heart more than outward sacrifices. He knows that if our hearts are purely devoted to him, that can’t help but affect our outward behaviour.

The inward direction of worship cannot be overemphasized. 2 Chronicles 16:9, pictures God as searching “the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” As we worship God, we seek to worship him with our whole heart because He is displeased with anything less. Speaking through Amos, the prophet, God says “I hate all your show and pretense -the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” (Amos 5:21-24).

God is pleased when we worship him with all that we are, all that we have, and all that we do; worship is a way of life. [This material is based on the book Pure Praise, by Dwayne Moore, and adapted by Howard Olver.]