For almost three years, you and I have lived the Faith life together. We have worshiped, served in mission, studied scripture, and lived life together. As Kristin and I prepare to embark on a new adventure (with a slightly larger family than when we came to you) we are thankful for the opportunities we have had at Faith.
In my time at Faith I have written over 120 articles on various themes. Today I write my last article to you. Final thoughts are often the hardest to come by. There is an urge to cram every important thought into the single page, after all, I’ll never have another chance to speak to you in this way. I have wrestled in my own mind over what to say here. Ultimately, I chose what I believe is the most important.
Worship is a matter of submission to God, of seeing His majesty, of recognizing our own frailty, and submitting to His will and way. Worship is not found in the emotion of a song, or the swing of a hammer, it is found in the heart that does those things out of reverence for Christ.
Social justice in and of itself is not worship. But social justice, out of obedience and love for Christ is the sweetest fragrance to God. In the book of James, we are told that caring for the widows and orphans is pure and undefiled religion.
Singing songs on Sunday morning is not worship in and of itself. If we sing our songs for our own benefit, we have missed the greater act of worship. But when we sing with hearts full of awe at the thought of a God who loved us so much He sent His son to free us from the captivity of our sins, those songs rise to the throne of God.
True worship is total submission. Paul exhorts us in the book of Romans, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. He tells us that this is our spiritual act of worship. But what does it look like to offer our bodies as living sacrifices? The short answer is to imitate Christ in His prayer “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Sacrificing our own desires, and following the leading of the Spirit.
If you would like a little more detail in the answer, we turn to the writings of Paul (with whom I share in my inability to be brief). In the letter to the
Colossians, he lays out clearly what it means to be totally submitted to God.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Your Homework and mine, for the rest of our lives. Become a true worshiper. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice. May your answer to the leading of God’s Spirit always mirror that of Christ, “Not my will, but yours be done.”