What is worship? (Romans 12)

Too many Christians like or leave their particular church because they're looking for "good worship" and what they really mean is "a good band".  The bands probably aren't that good anyway (don't get me started!) but that's not even the point.  What if more Christians got stuck into churches because they were looking for how they could serve?  What if they were in it for others and not for themselves?  What if they stopped consuming church and started really serving each other and loving people outside the church too?  Then, even if the best the band could do was ropy covers of boring indy worship songs, the WORSHIP would still be amazing!  That's what!

STOP, pray and read Romans 12

Paul says true and proper worship is to live and do everything for Jesus.  "Living sacrifices" (v1-2).  This means songs and bands are part of it but only part of it.  The songs bit means nothing if the life isn't happening.  Paul wants Christians to worship their guts out by living for Jesus instead of letting culture decide what they do.  In our day, this means we should fight hard to avoid getting sucked into the greedy consumer mentality that asks 'What am I getting out of this?' and start asking, 'What can I give?'  And even now, some Christians reading this will still think I'm talking exclusively about the singing in church.  I'm not!  It's our whole lives!  This is Paul's point.  Christians worship by living for Jesus!

Worship includes how Christians serve other Christians.  It starts with humility and Paul seems to suggest that the more faith you have, the more humble you should be because you have a clearer view of who Jesus is, who you are and who your family is too.  Jesus has given gifts and abilities to every Christian to serve one another in love and this means getting on with it and serving the best we can in his strength.  It also means helping each other fight off sin and temptation wherever it is still dragging people into trouble.  This means Christians should invite and welcome loving challenges from one another about their choices because they're wanting to constantly learn and grow and be more like Jesus.  Paul says if Christians love each other they'll 'hate what is evil and cling to what is good' (v9).  So if they say they love each other but don't do this, then they don't really love each other.

So if you're a Christian, when's the last time you asked another Christian to tell you what your blind spots might be or what they see in your life or habits that might be a cause for them to be concerned about you?  If it's been a while, try it this week and make it something you do often.     

Worship also includes how Christians are to love everyone, including people who don't yet trust and follow Jesus.  This means standing out by the distinctive way in which we do good to those who are against us (v14), party hard when someone has good news (v15), crash hard with those who are crushed (v15) and get on with all sorts of people (v16-18).  When Christians retaliate and bicker, avoid celebrations, ignore or frustrate people in tough times or clash and argue, they're not really loving people very well, which means they're not worshiping Jesus very well.  If the good news about Jesus is true, then Christians shouldn't just believe it, they should also be good news to others.  If we're looking for 'true and proper worship', this is part of it.

If you're not yet a Christian, think of the Christians you know.  Are they good news to you?  Are they good examples to follow?  Do they do the things described above?  They won't be perfect and they will need your forgiveness from time-to-time but what evidence do you see in their lives that they have a relationship with God?  Let them know! :)

We jumped ahead to do chapter 12 this week but we'll circle back to pick up chapter 11 next week.  At the end of chapter 11 Paul's explodes in worship after everything he's been explaining about the kindness of God through Jesus.  After this powerful moment of worship, his very next thought (that we've explored here) is to live a whole life of worship to God.

If you're a Christian, this cycle of listening to God, learning from God and living for God is your way of life already.  How's it going?  What help do you need to help you take the next step?

If you're not convinced about following Jesus yet, same question!  What help do you need to help you take the next step?