A single candle flickered weakly in the darkened room. Music echoed gently across the tile walls, filling the room with the peaceful sound of worship. The shuffling iPod was generating a soothing environment in which to relax. The next song was a particularly gentle rendition of “Refiner’s Fire,” which my worship team had played a number of years ago. I leaned back and took in the layered tapestry.
In somewhat typical fashion, the Lord jarred me from this complacent state in order to point something out. “Was this worship? What makes ‘worship’ worship?” The startling and pathetic reality is that I was actually not worshiping. But wasn’t I standing in front of a dimly lit room full of people, playing a guitar, directing several other musicians, singing lyrics about becoming holy, so the people might sing their assent?
Indeed I was. And I don’t doubt that some of the people there were truly worshiping the Lord. I myself was probably actually worshiping Him to some small degree. However, true worship of the Lord is a crucified life. It is not something one does once, twice, or even seven times a week. True worship is day to day, moment to moment, laying my life down in submission and sacrifice to the Lord’s will, and not my own.
Once, in a garden, a man gave in to the flesh and temptation; and in doing so, he changed everything, all of human history. He stopped worshiping the Lord in those moments. In another garden, another man resisted the flesh and the most awesome of temptations, died to self, and submitted himself to the Father’s commands; and everything changed again.
One sin, one moment matters. The way I live my life matters. Every decision to forsake things of this world, to deny self, and to follow Christ’s path of humiliation honors God mightily and releases a sweet aroma of sacrifice to Him.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world… (Romans 12:1-2a)
Playing pretty songs with skill and sensitivity means nothing. What does my life look like? Do I run from that altar and the fire that falls thereon? Am I trying to “survive” God? It can be done, but I will perish eternally.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:25)
All of God’s promises are released to us upon our death. We die when we’re born again (Colossians 3:3); we die daily in this life (1 Corinthians 15:31); and when our body finally dies, we inherit the fullness of His promises (1 Peter 1:3-5). How is it that we think we can obtain them yet remain alive? Scripture testifies clearly on this matter, so let us not be deceived. Let us not drag our feet but run joyfully to the cross each day, that we may walk in newness of life.
We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)