We Are: Worshipers of Jesus
I've watched way too much TV over the last few years. Hours, and hours, and hours. Some of those hours were spent watching alien documentaries and cookie-cutter war films, but the vast majority were spent on TV series that were cool... awhile ago. It started with White Collar. Currently, it's Parks and Rec.
And, though I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, most of it was CSI: Miami.
There's a lot of bad things to be said of CSI: Miami. The hero, Horatio Cain, is probably the most predictable, melodramatic protagonist that ever was. There's not much to be said for character development, either, at least in my opinion. And, the producers put far too much attention on what people were - or were not - wearing.
But one of the main reasons I loved CSI: Miami is at the end of every episode, you found out what made every suspect tick. You learned what they intended, and you watched what it made them. You learned what they sought, what they thought it would give them. And then, you watched them come face-to-face with the earthly consequences of giving a good thing god-hood.
You learned what they worshiped.
And then you watched what they worshiped turn and devour them.
No One Does Not Worship
No one does not worship. Every human is a worshiper.
The Bible often speaks of worship as "ascribing", or bowing, or submission.
Harold Best, in his book Unceasing Worship, defines the term "worship" as follows:
"Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do, and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god."
Worship is always happening. We are always ascribing god-hood to someone or something.
We were made to worship God, to give Him glory with our thoughts, words and deeds. The problem is, we often don't want to. We'd rather worship creation than the Creator.
Much of what we choose to worship is beautiful and good. It's not wrong to want a promotion. It's not wrong to love the mountains. It's not wrong to want to get good grades.
These aspirations and desires are good. They're just not ultimate, and they cannot give us the satisfaction that we seek, at least long term.
However, as Christians, saved by God's grace, we want to make sure that our worship is rightly directed.
But we're still "prone to wander" as the old hymn says. Though we've tasted and seen God's goodness in the giving of His Son, in whom "completion" is ultimately found, we want a shortcut. And good gifts look like great shortcuts.
But though we often wander, God's grace is sufficient. For Jesus, our Great High Priest, our Advocate to the Father, lived a life of perfect worship, of perfect submission to the will and word of God. He then, on the cross, swapped out His record of perfect worship for ours, a massive list of misdirected worship.
Because of Jesus, God the Father sees our worship as perfect.
Risen and ascended, He now advocates for us to our heavenly Father.
Where we fail, He has succeeded. In Jesus, we have nothing to fear.
And what Jesus has done demands a response. We must worship Him.
Romans 12.1 says "I appeal to you therefore brothers [word meaning "brothers and sisters"], by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
There's a lot here. Paul has just spent pages talking about who God is and what He's done in and through Jesus. The "therefore" is there to say "in light of everything before this."
In short, Paul is saying, "Because of God's grace and mercy toward you, worship Him with all that you are and all you will be."
This is massive. God has given you the ability to worship Him through the Holy Spirit. So you actually can do this.
And it's not quite as grandiose as one would think, at least in practice.
This is waking up in the morning and acknowledging that you're still alive. That you didn't have to think about breathing. And praising God for a new day, though it may not be quite up to your specifications, for God has given you more time on earth to glorify Him.
This is approaching your work, your studies, and your family life as a gift to you, and wanting to do a good job with the gift you've been given so that you can point people to Jesus in word and deed.
This is just being nice, treating people as humans, creatures made in the image of God, in the hopes that they'd get to experience the grace and mercy that you've been shown in Jesus.
This is getting into a Gospel Community or small group, serving in a local church, becoming a member, partnering up for ministry with other Jesus-Worshipers who want people to hear about Jesus.
It takes a bunch of different forms, and shows up in a bunch of different ways. But "whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Col 3.17)
Worship Rightly Oriented
At Redeemer, we want our worship to be a rightly oriented response to a good and gracious God.
We want to bear witness to who He is and what He's done.
We want everyone, everywhere, every day to hear and experience the gospel of Jesus. We want them to hear about Him and respond in worship to Him.
We want them to know that the gods of money, of power, of family, of cultural significance, cannot hold a candle to the God of the Bible. If you pursue them, they will ultimately turn and devour you. But in Jesus, there is freedom, and in Jesus, there is life.