The Cost of Worship
Dying to self and living for Christ
Speaking about ‘cost’ and ‘worship’ in the same sentence seems a little ironic. How could great worship – an amazing experience – come with a cost?
Serving God comes with a cost . . . a cost many of us haven’t calculated to the fullest. Our theology is a little messed up here. For some reason we often try to ‘sell’ the gospel as something that makes our lives better – sort of like an additive to your car’s gasoline.
But listen to Jesus’ words:
If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life. (Mark 8:35 – NLT)
Anyone who puts his love for father or mother above his love for me does not deserve to be mine, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and neither is the man who refuses to take up his cross and follow my way. The man who has found his own life will lose it, but the man who has lost it for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39 – Phillips)
Whoever is not willing to carry the cross and follow me cannot be my follower. (Luke 14:27 – NCV)
You see, it’s just not about us.
It’s about God.
Part of the cost of worship is that we must volitionally give up our focus on ourselves. Henry Blackaby, in his book Experiencing God, brings a unique perspective to the will of God (Henry T. Blackaby & Claude V. King, Experiencing God [Nashville: Broadman & Homan Publishers, 1994]). He writes that we often pray that God would show us his will for our lives as if our lives are the most important. Blackaby challenges our view of the will of God to help us understand that we are created to serve God. The essence of his will is that we fit into his broader purposes. If we will not do the task that accomplishes his will, he will call someone else to do it. God’s will for our life is that we faithfully live a life of worship. The tasks that God calls us to do accomplish his will.
So many of our prayers, though spoken to God, concentrate on us: “God, bless us in this endeavour”; “Lord, would you bring healing to the cancerous parts of my body”; “Father, would you help me to accomplish my assignments well”; “Jesus, empower me with your Holy Spirit.”
There is nothing unbiblical about any of these prayers. In fact, they are reflected in numerous prayers throughout the Bible. Scripture even tells us to bring our requests to God (Philippians 4:6). These are good prayers to pray. But notice the object of those prayers. Although they do recognize and honour God’s ability to provide for his people they are basically focused on us – our needs, our wants, our desires.
The focus of true worship is not on us or our needs. The focus of true worship is on God.
Worship involves volitionally directing our thoughts, prayers, songs and actions to God. Scriptures say that we are to bless the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:10; Psalm 72:18; 134:1-2; etc.)! We are to lift our voices and our lives in praise to the God of our salvation. God invites our participation. He prompts us to worship in many ways. But the decision to worship is volitional.
Worship is not a spectator sport. It is not something we watch but something we participate in. God prompts us. We decide to act and then direct our praise towards God. Worship centres on Jesus who demonstrated the love of the Father and completed the purchase of our salvation with his death and resurrection.
Worship involves a giving of ourselves to God – allowing him to be the focus of our life and activity. Scripture is full of encouragements to give ourselves to God. 1 Chronicles 22:19a says, “Now give yourselves completely to obeying the LORD your God.”
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