Sunday, February 15, 2009

Passionate Worship

I have been thinking recently about what it means to radically and passionately worship God, both on a Sunday morning during a church service and on a daily basis in ordinary happenings. There is no question in my mind that God is worthy of all of our praise. Regardless of what situation we find ourselves in, God is still on His throne. He is still the Creator of the universe. He is still in control. Jesus is still the Savior of the world. He still paid the ultimate price for my sins, which I will never be able to repay, even if I lived a thousand lifetimes. So, the question of worthiness has never been a question in my mind. The question comes more from my intention and effort in worshipping God, mainly my effort. My intentions are usually good. My intention with my life is to worship God with my life--while working, doing the dishes, pumping gas, driving, eating at a restaurant. However, the effort that I actually put into worship does not always reflect my good intentions. Let's start with something easy like a church service on Sunday. I have heard a man that I know talk about how God convicted him about his worship. God showed him that he would stand up and yell and shout and cheer at a football or basketball game, but it was an effort for him to just stand up and sing the words to a song of adoration to the God who created him on a Sunday morning. When put that way, it really forces me to consider what is more important in my life and are my actions accurate representations of those priorities. Now, I don't have too much of a problem standing up and singing and dancing and whatever on a Sunday morning during praise and worship, but I do have to remind myself to not simply sing empty words to the Lord. If the song says "I surrender all," then I better make sure that I am willing to surrender everything to God. If I am saying to God that I will praise Him in the storm, I better make sure that I remember that when everything looks like it is about to fall to pieces at my feet.
So, what does passionate, radical worship look like in my mundane, day-to-day living? Well, I am not sure, but I think it has a lot to do with my attitude and the actions that result from it. I really make an effort to honor God with everything that I do. I try to always respond with love, to be slow to anger, to be patient in trying situations, to always be joyful, to be hopeful, to be a woman of my word, and to accurately represent Jesus to others, as far as it depends on me. I think this is what real worship is. It involves a series of conscious decisions accompanied by a series of consistent actions. The actions that are to follow Christ-followers are clearly expressed in Romans 12:9-21, which says, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate toward one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore, 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." I want to love as Jesus loved, and in order to do that, I need to know Him. Worship is about knowing Him and glorifying Him. When we truly worship, we will encounter Him in ways we can only imagine, and in turn, He will provide us with the continued ability to worship Him more fully. He will increase our patience, our desire and ability to love, our vision. He will increase His grace toward us, not so we can have a scapegoat for our sin but in order for us to live as the individuals God created us to be. That is why we need Him, why we need His grace. We need it to honor and glorify and worship Him as He is for creating us as He desires us to be. So, I know that I have some work to do in order to be the person God created me to be. There is so much that I don't know, and it sure seems that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I really don't know or understand. So, may the desire of my heart be Psalm 63:1, "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water."