I am currently teaching a series called ReThink Church which I am recapping on this blog with a few extra thoughts. This second teaching will be broken into several parts so the post won’t be so long and allowing me not to rush through it. If you haven’t read Pt.I, take the time to read it first. It lays the foundation that informs all the rest of this series.
Having looked at what the church is, we find a living organism, not an inanimate building. If you grew up “in Church”, you probably thought of the building you gathered in and everything you understood to be the Church was defined by the building, it’s location, it’s programs and the forms of worship that took place there. My attempt is to decentralize the church as it is commonly defined by the building and all that goes on there and see the glory of the Church that is not the building. If we can do this church will take on a whole new life a much larger and satisfying life.
I will start by asking this question: “If the church is living and not a building and the living church belongs to God and it is distinguished by His presence and is to be the full reflection of His image in the earth; THEN, how does this change our understanding of worship?”
“When worship is our response to the One who alone is worthy of it – Jesus Christ – then our lives are on their way to being turned inside out. Every dimension of self-centered living becomes endangered as we come to share God’s self-giving heart.” Mark Labberton – The Dangerous Act of Worship (pg. 1, ¶.2)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1 (ESV)
The first principle: “Worship is about unbroken intimate Relationship.”
There are people who will debate over worships being for God and not for us or about getting into His presence or bringing His presence. I want to say it is both. From the above passage we find that worship is presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. Why sacrifice? Because it’s all about relationships.
In Genesis 1-3 we find the story of God creating man and woman and their subsequent sin and dismissal from the Garden of Eden. The word’s Garden of Eden mean “the garden of His (God’s) delight.” Man enjoyed unbroken intimate relationship with God. This was His plan. However, man sinned and this relationship was broken. God had to separate Himself from man.
God sacrificedan animal and made skin coverings to replace the fig leaf coverings man made. In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel bring offerings to God. Abel made a sacrifice of the firstfruit of his flock. His offering was acceptable, Cain’s was not. Cain got angry and killed Abel.
In Genesis 8 Noah comes off the ark and first builds an altar and makes sacrifice to God. Abraham was instructed by God in Exodus 25 to take the son of promise, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar he built. From the beginning, God instituted a way back to relationship with Him. The altar has always been a place built for God’s presence. The sacrifice has always make a way for God to come to man and man to be in His presence. God created a way to have moments of unbroken intimate relationship with Him through sacrifice.
Now we know Jesus became for us the final, once and for all time, eternal sacrifice, so we can have a relationship with the Father. (Hebrews 10) God’s plan has always been to make a way for us to experience the fullness of unbroken intimate relationship with Him. Worship is both a need on our part and a desire on God’s for us to connect with Him. The greatest honor and worth we could extol on God is to pursue and live in the presence the He so desires for us to experience. We should sacrifice everything so we can come unhindered into the presence of the one who has pursued us from before time.
We have been made worthy to enter into God’s presence by Jesus’ sacrifice. We can now simply come to Him. Anything we do because of His presence is worship. If I stand for justice, because of His presence, that’s worship. If I sing because of Him, it’s worship. If I love because of Him, it’s worship. If I work hard because of His presence, it’s worship. If I rest, give, study, pray, share, invest, gather with others, recieve persecution, or go green because of His presence, it’s extoling Him and giving worth to Him.
Worship is about unbroken intimate relationship with the One who loved us first.
It is not about the religious forms of worship, but rather giving our life to the God who offers relationship to us.
In the next part we will look at Worship and the experience Grace.