As we continue on in our “Family Values” series, we talked through our value of worship.
Much like the value of Scripture, the value of worship can mean so much and so many different things. Seriously. Just Google it.
Using Romans 11-13 as a framework, we talked about how worship is at least 3 things: Remembrance, Action, and Anticipation.
To worship is to remember
(Rom 11:33 -12:1a)
This is related to Scripture as one of the main purposes of the Scriptures seems to be to remind us. The Bible is replete with phrases like “do not forget” and “remember”. Even Deuteronomy is sermon given over again; reminding people of the law.
And Paul is doing this all-throughout Romans. For the first 11 chapters, he is laying groundwork, reminding the Jewish people of their story and showing how the Gentiles fit in. Being so moved by it, he burst into song at the end of chapter 11
He then says, therefore, in view of God’s mercies…
To remember is to put God’s mercies, his loving acts, back into our main view.
Simply put, to worship is to remember all that God has done.
To worship is to act.
Once we view God’s mercies, it prompts us into action. We must respond by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice to him. This is a very loaded term.
This word for body is “soma”. A couple things about this word:
- It is word that means more than just our physical selves. It is a shorthand word for “all that makes us, us” (offer your self: body, mind, soul—everything)
- It is used in the plural here while “sacrifice” is singular as well as all of the other adjectives that follow. It is a collective sacrifice made up multiple “bodies” all doing the same thing
So, my humble translation of this verse would be something like this:
“I appeal (encourage/admonish/plead) to all of you therefore, brothers and sisters, because of the mercies of God, that you all present your bodies together as one living sacrifice; a single sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God. This will be your collective spiritual or reasonable act of worship/service to God.”
So there is an inherent togetherness of worship. It is not “my worship” it is always my part in “our worship”. When we come together to worship God, whether on Sunday mornings, or on Saturday mornings handing out food and clothes to the homeless, or painting a wall, or whatever it is: we are together offering one big sacrifice to God. We are a living sacrifice; a body of believers that is a living body. Paul “fleshes” this out later on the chapter by saying that each of us is a member of the body or a part of the whole. We all have our role to play. We all have our own gifts and talents. But we all belong to each other (more on this another time)
John Stott best summarized what this looks like when describing a living sacrifice: “It is not to be offered in the temple courts or in the church building, but rather in the home life and in the marketplace. It is the presentation of our bodies to God. Then our feet will walk in His paths, our lips will speak the truth…our hands will lift up those who have fallen, and perform many mundane tasks as well…; our arms will embrace the lonely and unloved, our ears will listen to the cries of the distressed, and our eyes will look humbly and patiently towards God.”
Worship is to remember all God has done and to join Him in what he is doing.
To worship is to anticipate
When we remember and act, we are anticipating God’s future. This is actually the wonderful combination of remembering what God has said about the future and doing what he has asked of us.
There is a sense of preparedness and a future hope which can guide our current activity. This plays itself out in our singing and conversation, as we talk about what God has said he will do or about the future of creation. The fancy word for this is “eschatological”. For our worship to be most full, we must worship eschatologically; thinking of where this whole thing is going and what that demands of us. It’s remembering forward.
To complete our definition: worship is remembering all that God has done, joining him in what he is doing, and anticipating what he will do.
This week, may we realize that the work of worship continues as we leave this place. May we remember the mercies of our God, may we glory in his goodness, and may this push us into action. May we together be a good and right sacrifice to our God, and may our good works anticipate Jesus’ future kingdom by pulling it mightily into the present.
Grace and Peace be with you.
Would love your thoughts and comments below. 🙂