By Dustin Loehrs, Worship Pastor
This week is part two of a series called “The Call to Worship”. Before we begin, if you haven’t read part one by our media director Donovan Drake please go back and read it. Donovan did an amazing job defining and talking about purposeful worship through digging into scripture.
Earlier we saw that scripture defines purposeful worship as the intentional, meaningful determination to seek after God’s will through the sacrificial offering of every aspect of our lives. So, first and foremost, worship is not about us…let’s not move past that just yet…worship is not about us. Absolutely nothing about worship is self glorifying. In fact the very heart of worship is giving glory to something other than ourselves. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that offering our lives as a living sacrifice is our act of worship, and without doing that, you will not be able to discern the will of God. Our worship should be a consistent reminder in our lives of what God has done for us, our sin condition (Rom. 3:23), what we deserve (Rom. 6:23), and what God chose to bestow on us instead (Rom. 5:8). Because of that reminder, we knowingly sacrifice our will in submission to His. As believers, if we are all submitting ourselves to God, then worship is something that is incredibly unifying among the church body. The beauty is that regardless of our age, income, social status, race, or background we all worship the same God and celebrate victory through the same gospel (1 Tim. 2:4). Christ is the great neutralizer. A.W. Tozer communicates this well in his book The Pursuit of God, when he said:
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
Unfortunately, when it comes to corporate gatherings, we have all heard many stories of disagreement and disunity over everything from preaching style, to lighting levels, to whether there is coffee in the lobby or not. My prayer is that we would commit to fight for unity, but not just the unity that comes from similar likes and dislikes. I pray we strive for the unity that comes from purposeful worship, and the celebration of the common grace and mercy we have all been shown through Christ. Let us be reminded to have the same attitude and Humility that Christ exemplified in Phil. 2:4-9
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
How to be a Purposeful Worshiper
Whether you are sitting, listening to a sermon, or standing, worshiping through song, corporate gatherings of the church are not a spectator event, nor are they the main event. This list is definitely not all inclusive, but here are a few practical steps to be a purposeful worshiper when we gather together.
Worship During the Week
Without spending daily time seeking the Lord through the disciplines He has laid out for us – things like reading His word, hiding it in our hearts through memorization, prayer, service, fellowship, and evangelizing, it is nearly impossible to worship him in the way he has called us to on Sunday. We need to be spending time with the Lord throughout the week. Worship is an outpouring of what occupies our hearts. If we are not consistently filling our hearts with the things of Christ, genuine worship becomes superficial and distorted. The constant temptation for any human being is to subtly allow the lens to turn from God, and back around to ourselves. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy and prowls around like a lion (John 10:10). If we are not actively battling the forces of the unseen world daily, Satan is given a foothold in our personal lives and in our church. The sacrificial offering of ourselves in worship is a lifestyle, not just something that happens on Sundays. If we only do it one day per week we are greatly cheapening and diminishing what God has called us to do, and the blessing He has for us (Rom 12:1-2). In fact, disobedience of this leads to sin in other areas.
Arrive on Time
This can be a tough one for many reasons, but it’s a crucial one! Again, it’s not about pleasing anyone around us, but rather best setting our hearts up to engage with Christ. We only have a short amount of time together each week. Make the most of it by being there for all of it. Interact with people before and after the service. Fellowship is part of being with the body of Christ, and we need to have relationships with fellow believers (Heb. 10:24-25).
Prepare your heart for the service. Spend time reading scripture and in prayer before you come and ask God to speak to you. This is in the same vein as Worship during the week. Don’t make the first two songs your warmup, come ready to engage and expecting to hear from the Lord (Prov. 8:17).
There are many different expressions of worship, which are as varied as the people in the body of Christ. I’m convinced the Lord isn’t as concerned with what our bodies are or aren’t doing during this time, but rather with the engagement of our hearts. We are all called to sing songs of worship to the Lord and make a joyful noise to Him (Psalm 98:4). This has nothing to do with the quality of our singing voices, but rather whether our hearts desire to sing our Savior’s praises. The end result, however, should be the same. We should absolutely be moved in a mighty way, by dwelling on and praising the Lord for who He is and what He’s done. There are very few organizations where a majority of non-musicians regularly gather and make music together, but God created the arts and he uses the for His glory. Only His glory inspires this in the heart of every person who knows Him. Don’t sit there and think about where you are going for lunch or what you have to do this week. Be in the moment. Sing the songs…even if they are not your favorite :), think about the words and what they mean. Listen to the sermon and take notes (Ps. 149:1; 100:2). You may have heard the phrase “You only get out what you put in”. Our spiritual lives are no different, and God has not called use to follow Him half way. We need to be completely devoted and submitted (Rev. 3:15-16).
In closing, let’s finish out the last part of this series in the same way we did the first. Let the words to this great hymn be our prayer for purposeful worship.
Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You
You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray