A few years ago, the band Casting Crowns released an anthem that really gets to the heart of worship. It was called “Lifesong” and part of the lyrics said this:
Empty hands held high,
Such small sacrifice;
If not joined with my life,
I sing in vain tonight.
May the words I say,
And the things I do,
Make my lifesong sing,
Bring a smile to You
Let my lifesong sing to You;
Let my lifesong sing to You;
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true.
Let my lifesong sing to You
What I love about that song is the fact it captures so beautifully that true worship is a 24/7 thing, which leads to our next essential: biblical worship is lifestyle-oriented.
One of the great temptations in the life of a worshipper is compartmentalizing. We tend to think that worship is that hour we sit, sing, and soak on Sunday mornings, and we often measure the quality of our worship by how high the emotion got in the service. You hear people say things like, “God really showed up today. Brother Luther ran the aisles, Sister Doo fell out in the floor, and I just couldn’t quit crying.” Is that the measure of biblical worship? No way! Is biblical worship confined to just that hour? No way! That hour should spill over into and be a continuation of the other 167 hours in the week. Biblical worship is a lifesong!
God through Paul speaks of this very thing in Romans 12:1, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Every second of our lives reflects how worthy and valuable we think God is. Therefore, we must live accordingly. Worship is more than a song. It’s a lifestyle.
The high stakes of every second of our lives being worship is why Paul is so strong here. He “urges” us. He’s begging, pleading, entreating, beseeching, encouraging. He’s saying, “This is urgent! This is serious!” I believe Paul knew well our tendency to compartmentalize our lives:
- When I’m with my spouse, I put on my spouse hat.
- When I’m with my kids, I put on my parent hat.
- When I’m at work, I put on my work hat.
- When I’m at school, I put on my school hat.
- When I’m with friends, I put on my friend hat.
- When I’m at church, I put on my church hat.
Sadly, you might get a different person with every hat. The person you are at church might be grieved by the person you are work. The person you are with your kids might be disgusted by the person you are with your friends.
The problem isn’t the fact that you change hats because that’s just a part of life. The problem is that in some roles people often choose to take off their robe of white. They pull it out when it’s necessary but put it away when it’s inconvenient. Under one hat, they have on their robe of white and are telling God He is of greatest worth and value; under another hat, they take their robe of white off and are telling God He is of little, if any, worth or value. God doesn’t care as much which hat you put on as long as you wear the robe of white every second of the day!
That’s what Paul means when he tells us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. The picture here that Paul uses is of the Old Testament ritual offerings in the Tabernacle and Temple, the language of the Levitical priesthood. According to the Law, a Jew would bring his offering of an animal to the priest, who would then take it, slay it, and place it on the altar in behalf of the person who brought it. You see, sacrifices to God don’t compartmentalize their lives. They are 100% dead to the world and 100% for God.
That’s how we are to be in worship as well. Our lives in worship should be 100% dead to the world and 100% for God. We are to be as Paul was in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Obviously, there’s one big difference between an Old Covenant sacrifice and the sacrifice that Paul is calling us to here under the New Covenant. Paul calls us to be a “living sacrifice.” An Old Covenant sacrifice required the death of the thing being offered. God, however, doesn’t desire for us to die in sacrificial dedication to Him. He wants us to live in sacrificial dedication to Him. Of course, for one to live in such a way, there must be a spiritual death—a death to self-will (Mark 8:34).
Friend, every second of every day you live, you are worshipping something. You are either worshipping God, or you are worshipping something else. As some of you read this, you truly want to worship God every second. Therefore, you are making plans to quit your job, sell your home, and join a monastery so that you can concentrate on God all day long and do those cool monk chants. Please don’t! Rather, expand your idea of worship. It’s a lifestyle!
Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31, Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. That means you can turn a wrench and worship God. You can drive piece of machinery and worship God. You can punch those keys and worship God. You can teach those kids and worship God. How? Do it all to the glory of God in the spirit of Christ. That’s being a living sacrifice. That’s worship that is lifestyle-oriented!
Links to previous posts in this series: