No doubt, you are familiar with the expression, “Sold out for God.” But just what exactly does that mean? Well, in a nutshell, it is simply a reference to the concept that an individual has given him or herself to God to the degree that the controlling influence for every part of life is the will of God. Whether or not we actually give ourselves to serve God to that degree, most believers would at least admit that we ought to do so.
Another concept that most Christians consider important to achieve has to do with obtaining meaning in life. Every person has an internal drive for personal meaning and looks for it in various places. As Christians, we often point to our relationship with Christ as something that provides that kind of meaning for our lives.
These two elements, deep commitment to God and personal meaning in life, both have a common core. Of course, if you don’t already know what that core is, you may be scratching your head wondering why in the world these two things are being tied together here. But, in fact, both emerge out of the most central element of our Christian faith – worship.
I know that we generally tend to use the word worship when we are talking, or thinking, about the gathering of the church members together for services on Sunday or Wednesday. But the concept of worship actually goes much deeper than that. It is the very essence of our relationship with God. Worship certainly can happen when we are together with our Christian family in a mass gathering – but not necessarily. It is possible to be in a “worship service” and not actually worship. Of course, worship can also happen when we are in a small group or even alone.
In its essence, Christian worship relates to one’s acknowledgment to God of his worthiness to be revered as God. It is very personal and mostly happens when we consciously stand in the presence of God and offer him praise, glory and honor.
There is no doubt in my mind that one of the greatest frustrations we experience as Christians is that we struggle to sincerely give worship to God on a consistent basis. As a result we do not live up to the standard we feel we should and don’t experience the meaning in life that we feel ought to be there. I have no doubt about this because I personally know the experience. This is something that is common to virtually all believers.
But just because these failures are common experience does not mean that they are necessary. Because of our relationship with God, it is absolutely possible for us to live a consistently devoted life and to continually experience deep meaning in life. In order to get these, though, it is essential that we truly understand the scope of worship and put ourselves in a position where we actually do worship God.
The Parameters of Worship
The very basis of worship entails personal interaction with God. This, of course, occurs as we pray and as we read and study the Bible. But communication with God is not simply about moments in time when we put our focus on him. Certainly, those moments are important – even essential.
But these are only points of time in a larger context. Interaction with God relates to every part of our lives – even the times when we are not consciously focused on him. To truly grasp the significance of this, we must figure out how to make the whole process automatic (that does not mean mindless). We do that by developing a worldview foundation in which our whole life is focused on God’s purpose rather than on personal desires.
This cannot be done simply by consistently praying, reading the Bible and being active in church. We must go beyond that and put ourselves in a position to continuously see the world through God’s eyes. This means that we have to see ourselves as persons called by God just like pastors and missionaries. This is what happens when we have truly adopted a Christian worldview.
Basically, what God has done is to expand the concept of worship beyond what we normally think of. We certainly must worship in our personal quiet times and in our public worship services. But worship occurs at every moment we find ourselves in the presence of God. And since, for believers, God indwells our lives, there is never a time when we are not in his presence. As such, we are always in a position to worship. We may not always worship well, but we are continually offering something to God.
Worship with Other Believers
While many Christians have the concept that they go to church to worship, technically this is not correct. It’s not that we don’t worship when we go to church. But rather than going to a place in order to worship, we actually take worship with us when we go places.
In the Old Testament, God did dwell in a place. He had the tabernacle constructed as a specific place to dwell among the tribes of Israel. Later, when Israel had settled in the promised land, the temple building was constructed for that purpose.
But with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a new covenant was established. With that, God determined to no longer dwell in buildings but in the very hearts of believers. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, are literally the temple of the Holy Spirit.
So when we go to church to worship, we are not going there to meet God. We are already meeting him as we walk around on the earth. Rather, we go to meet other believers who are also carrying around the presence of God in their lives. When we do that, we worship God together with others rather than simply worshiping him alone.
When we invited Christ into our lives, we entered into a personal relationship with him. But this relationship is not simply some abstract concept – it is an actual family relationship. When we accept Christ, God literally adopts us into his family as his child. Before that moment we were merely a creation of God, but afterward we became his child.
So, when we meet with other believers we are literally meeting with our spiritual brothers and sisters. When we gather together with other Christians, we are having a family gathering. We are all gathering together in the presence of our heavenly Father to worship him together.
Understanding Our Calling
An important element in helping us to understand how our relationship with God works is to understand the concept of “calling.” Who, exactly, are the people who are called into Christian ministry? In the minds of most, there is a strong distinction between those “called into ministry” and “lay people.” In actual fact, the Bible uses the word calling to describe three different things.
The first calling is God’s call to every human being to enter into a personal relationship with him. Before we make the personal decision to do this, we are separated from God because of our sin. When we accept this calling by inviting Christ into our lives, God forgives us and adopts us into his family.
The second calling is directed to those who positively respond to the first call, and is the call to Christian service. Every person who invites Christ into his or her life is called by God to perform the work of the kingdom. This work is customized to fit the individual based on the gifts and talents given by God. The goal of this calling is to build his kingdom. The work of the calling involves sharing our faith with non-believers and building up other Christians by whatever means possible based on the individual calling.
Of course, since it is a calling, each person must decide whether or not to positively respond. But the calling exists whether a Christian responds or not. So, every Christian is called into full time Christian service. God’s plan is to use every believer to permeate the world with the gospel message.
The third kind of calling is the one most people think of when they hear the word “calling” – the call into vocational Christian ministry. Of those who respond to the second calling, God selects some whom he calls into leadership. These people become vocational pastors, missionaries, church staff, evangelists and so on. The primary work of this third kind of calling is not to do all of the work of God in the world. Rather, it is to enable those who have received the second calling to succeed in theirs.
This is clearly taught in Ephesians 4:11-13 where we read: It was he (God)who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. NIV
The implication is that the calling into ministry is not something that is just given to a select few. God intends every Christian to discern the specific calling on his or her life and respond positively to it.
Living Life is an Act of Worship
As such, we need to identify just how our calling fits into daily life and what relationship it has to worship. Our calling is to build the Kingdom of God in the context of living life. We do it as we work, play, study, etc.
God’s calling on our lives is always more important than whatever human activity we might do. The activity is a temporal platform. The calling has eternal significance. The goal of the Christian calling, then, is to live every part of life in relationship to God and do his bidding. As we do this, we live and work in proximity to all kinds of people with whom we are able to share Christ.
Ultimately we are continuously living our lives in the presence of God, whether we are conscious of it or not. Our relationship with him is an ongoing process, not merely something we do in special moments. The activities we do are also an offering to God, not merely things to gain personal fulfillment or make money. As we engage life’s activities and fulfill our calling, our ultimate purpose is to please God. And when we do that, we fulfill God’s ultimate purpose which is to build his Kingdom.
When we have a Biblical understanding of life (a Biblical worldview), we are able to live constantly in the presence of God. If we find ourselves seeking temporal goals, we can be sure we are operating out of a non-Christian worldview.
It is extremely important to understand the essential purpose of God and how our calling fits into that. But there is one more concept that we must also grasp. That is, every action we take in our lives is literally an act of worship.
The word worship comes from the old English word worshipe and means worthiness or honor. The very idea is based on the truth that someone is of high enough worth to receive reverent love and devotion. Typically, this word is used in reference to a deity.
When thinking about how worship is practiced in daily life, people have various ideas. Worship, obviously, is practiced in the presence of God. In the minds of many, we enter the presence of God when we enter a “holy place” such as a church, or when we consciously bring God to mind on a personal level. Both of these are very legitimate worship practices. But in the Christian faith it has a broader context.
For the Christian, God is present with us whether we are consciously thinking of him or not. In fact, the Bible teaches that his dwelling place is not in buildings built by man, but in the bodies of believers. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. NIV” This means that everything we do at every point in time is done in the presence of God. We are offering these acts to God whether we consider is so or not. As such, we are in constant worship.
This does not mean that we worship well. The bad or thoughtless things we do in God’s presence ought to make us ashamed and embarrassed. As such we are admonished to make all of life a proper offering to God. In Colossians 3:23-24 is says, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. NIV
It should be powerful motivation for us to align our lives, thoughts and actions, with God and his purposes. If we understand this rightly, every part of life becomes a sweet offering to God and an act of worship.
© 2009 Freddy Davis