If you are like me, you have used the term worship to describe an experience. Usually that experience is usually related to a spiritual encounter. It could be listening to a song, exposure to some great Biblical truth or even taking in a fantastic view of nature. There is another way that we worship that most Christians do not think about.
This week we did a flyover of Romans 12. This chapter represents a transition from the doctrinal teaching of on the gospel to how the gospel makes a difference in our lives. It speaks to an area of worship that most followers of Jesus overlook, obedience. Paul communicates this great truth this way, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) It is once we understand that salvation is a free gift that we can begin to look at our responsibility to live for God. And that is the focus of Paul throughout the rest of the book of Romans. It hit me again (this is one of my favorite chapters) that we are called to sacrifice, not animals, but through the choices we make to obey Jesus! He reminds us that when we choose to obey we are actually worshiping. This is incredible to think that our choices to obey are just as significant as singing a powerful worship song, or looking at a beautiful vista. Yet that is what Paul calls “spiritual worship!”
Our worship through obedience is another way to acknowledge God’s authority in our lives. So when I choose to put Biblical truth into practice, I am actually saying through my actions that God’s way is best. I am choosing to honor God through the choices that I makes. I highlighted 4 areas of our lives where we can practice “spiritual worship” through the sacrifices that we make. The first is “changing the way we look at life.” Romans 12:2 challenges us not to be conformed to culture’s value system and way of thinking but to be transformed by getting God’s Word into our minds. This is a sacrifice to followers because it does not come naturally or easy. It takes discipline to reprogram our perspective on life. So when we do this we are actually worshiping. Second, we need to change the way that we look at ourselves. Romans 12:3-8 calls us to have a balanced view of ourselves. This passage is really a call to humility that embraces who God has created us to be. We live in a culture where everyone is trying to be someone or something else, and yet God calls us to be comfortable in our own skin! When we come to this place we are able to use our gifts and abilities to serve rather than be served. This is another way that we worship.
Third, we worship in our lives, by how we treat those around us. Romans 12:9-13 challenges us to sacrifice our own opinions and preference to the needs of others. We are called to have a genuine love for others. And the challenge is to work at putting others first in our lives. Now, when you attempt to do this you will realize how challenging it can be. Yet, when we do put others first, we worship our Savior! And last we are called to change the way that we deal with conflict. Romans 12:14-21 we are called to break the cycle of evil with God. Again, this requires us to sacrifice our rights. The last verse in the chapters puts it this way, ““Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson