By Jerrod Byrne
Do you ever notice how the definition of a word can literally be changed, simply by how we use it in a sentence? Think about it. Let’s take the word, “sick” for example. Now, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of, “sick,” is: affected with disease or ill health. We’re all on the same page with that, right? Wrong. I’m going to speak as if I were a 17-year-old kid watching Kevin Durant drive the lane and leap over LeBron James like a little action figure as he two handed stuffs the ball in the can, being rewarded even further as the ball then bounces off king James forehead leaving those cute little dimple marks from the impact. (Ok, there’s all kinds of stuff going on with that sentence, admittedly. But stick with me; that wasn’t even the point I was making). Observing the event that I just described, a 17-year-old might say, “Ooohhhh, that was sick! What a savage!” If you’re completely confused at this point, I’ll just tell ya. “Sick” in that context means “awesome, amazing, incredible.” Moving on.
We do the same thing with the word, “worship.” With no malicious intent whatsoever, we’ve confined worship in the church, mostly to the music; the songs that we sing. However, we know that worship is far more than that. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” There ya have it; in all things, we are to worship God. With our words and our silence; with our actions or our rest; whether at church on Sunday or the office on Monday, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. So, the next time I ask you guys to stand and worship with me on Sunday, I’m not implying that you weren’t worshipping while you were sitting there.
I’ve gotta start going somewhere with this, and quick. Since we’ve now got some context for the total amount of square footage that worship can, and should occupy in our lives, let’s talk briefly about just one of those areas, “congregational worship.” I’d like to narrow the lens down just a bit further, all the way to, “worship through music in the church.” Just so I know we’re all track’n together, I’m talking about the music set; the worship set. I’m gonna mention three things here: 1. How we worship. 2. Why we worship. 3. Who we worship.
First up is “How.” Look, how you worship has little interest to me if I’m being completely honest. You might be a loud singer (notice I didn’t; say a good singer… I kid, I kid). Really though, you may belt it out from the deepest part of your gut. On the contrary, you may sing soft enough that you could do it during Jeff’s message and no one would even hear it. You might lift your hands over your head in celebration the same way you do when you’re watching a game and Kevin Durant dunks on LeBron James. (Full disclosure: No idea why I keep referencing basketball, I was a wrestler). You could have your eyes wide open, or shut the whole time, and I would say to you that none of that matters. What matters is if you are in fact worshipping or not. I’m not asking you if you love the song, or if you’re in full agreement with the volume level. I would simply ask, are you gathered in community with other believers and allowing yourself to be in awe of God, as you exercise a biblical truth, singing and praising Him for His goodness despite your wretchedness. As long as “how” you do that doesn’t go directly against any scripture, how away, my friends!
Next up, “Why.” The why is simple; Jeff mentions it nearly every week, and I’m so glad he does. We have a sin problem, a dilemma if you will. We are separated from God because of that sin problem. And why, because our Heavenly Father can’t be around sin (this is important to remember, it’s our problem, not His).
And here it is church. There are two ways that we can pay the penalty for our sin. And just to be thorough on the gravity of this dilemma we face, let’s look at the penalty right quick. Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, …
That’s right church, someone had to die.
This is high stakes you guys. I know I write like I talk, which is kinda unpolished, but this is life and death, literally. Which is why the part after the comma in verse 23 is so awesome… but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Translation, He died so you and I could live. If you need a better reason for “why” you should worship God, Jesus Christ, my guess would be that perhaps life has allowed you to stay on your feet for the most part; give it time, it’ll bring you to your knees. And for me, that’s where I realized why. Why do I worship, because while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8).
Last, however anything but least, “Who.” You would think this one is even simpler than the why. I mean, we worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the way, the truth and the life; and only through Him will we arrive at the Father on that final day when He calls each and every one of us home. (John 14:6). The thing to be careful of is this though; stay with me. We can believe the right things, but live the wrong way church. Good intentions don’t always translate to faithfulness and obedience. Anything that exists in our lives that is keeping us from being transformed by the Word of God, and changed by the person of Jesus Christ, is arguably receiving worship that should be reserved only for God. And don’t be deceived into thinking that the false “who’s” in our lives, are always a people. We can be all too successful at worshipping our careers, professional advancement, money, retirement goals, social status, our kid’s sports, our entertainment and hobbies, vacation destinations, inappropriate relationships, cell phones, and yeah, social media use for sure.
Look, James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” So, if we say that we’re believers and followers of Jesus Christ, then we have to be willing to admit where the life we’re live’n, doesn’t line up with the words we’re use’n; and ultimately be intentional about reserving our worship for Him alone. So, worship loud during music on Sunday, or do it soft; do it with your hands up or out, eyes wide or shut.
Do it because you are loved by someone so much that He died just to know you.
And finally, make sure that if someone accuses you of being a follower of Jesus, the life you’re living is all the proof they’ll need!
Disclaimer: (It is quite possible that had nothing to do with congregational worship).
Much love you guys,