“Worship is not a song. Worship is our response to God with all that we are. It’s all that He is. All that He has done, is doing, and will do in, through us, around us, and in spite of us, but it’s not just a song. Worship is our response with all of our lives and everything that we’ve given to all that God is. So if we come to a place and raise our hands and we raise our voices but we don’t stretch our hands out when we leave this place to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and care for the sick; then all we’ve done is worshiped a singer or a song – not a God.”
I remember first hearing this quote a year ago and thinking, “Yes, I wish more people would get this in their minds!” I thought I had gotten this down and my job as a worship leader was to help people be aware and grow in this. I was studying to be a social worker and I definitely had a heart to engage the homeless and broken in any way that I could! Check. But I think I was missing the central part of it all… I was working for God relentlessly and my good deeds were stacking up by the miles! But what really was I sacrificing? Not my time, I was in school to do most of the things I was volunteering for. Not my money, I was a broke college student. Not my comfort, I made sure I was familiar with the situations I went into.
As I read over this quote again a year later, I realize that I was completely wrong. I wasn’t giving God all that I was. In fact, I was giving God all that others deemed enough. I didn’t offer up to God anything that cost me something. Thats a tough pill to swallow. The true sacrifice for me was, is, and always will be my life. Dying to the person that I was to become more like the God who saved me from darkness into His marvelous light. That is true worship. It is where affections grow, habits mature, thoughts are realigned, and hearts are made whole. It’s where a the broken are restored, the nameless are called sons and daughters of God, and those in suffering find peace in the midst of chaos when we see a sinless King on a cross who gave his life and endured more suffering than we will ever have to because His love for us is unlike anything else we will ever experience.
Songs are simply a response and overflow of this. I am learning that worship services shouldn’t primary point us to sacrificial worship. Sacrificial worship should instead lead us to respond in song, prayer, and thanksgiving. This is our true and proper worship.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.
So when I think about this and the way that God calls us all to offer up all that we are to be more like him, I have to ask, “What can I give to God that selfishly cost me everything?’ After all, that’s what God did on the calvary’s cross with His only son Jesus. So what makes us think we’re not required to devote our lives back in return? More times than not, my sacrificial offering is the one thing I cherish more than Jesus. Lust, relationships, approval, comfort, success, control and my time. That’s what it is for me. To give these all up and find comfort and sufficiency in God. That’s what true worship to God for me looks like right now. Not just getting up on a stage and leading songs and being expressive every Sunday, then going Monday through Saturday running to everything else but God.
What does true sacrificial worship to God look like for you?