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To Be vs. To Do!

"From the overflow of your private worship, be a witness and serve the Kingdom with gladness." By Dr. Adely T. Charles
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Imagine a world without sin where the glory of God is omnipresent, and His image-bearers adore Him without fail.

A world where disunity, fear, guilt and shame are nonexistent because our relational God desired communion with His creation. What may seem dreamy and unimaginable as a fairy tale was once palpable. As the Psalmist insinuates, one could “taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8, NIV). In the Garden, perfect worship was experienced; the worship of Yahweh was uninhibited, unlimited, unrestrained, unmeasurable, uninterrupted, undisturbed, unafraid, undeniable, unblemished, unconditional and uncompromising. Being in God’s presence and enjoying Him forever was life. In the Garden, our purpose for existence—to worship—was fulfilled.

I don’t know if you noticed that I mentioned being instead of doing. When sin was absent, being in God’s presence was and still is a vital part of worship. You see, as His creation, we can’t help but worship—we are created that way. We are made to long for God. Author G.K. Beale states in his book, “God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth,” “We are creatures of longing. When we misdiagnose the object of this longing, then we become frustrated and disappointed.” The deceiver slithered in and exchanged the truth of our purpose for a lie and God-centered worship was falsely redirected to self-centered worship. Here’s the question: Are you going to choose to worship God, our Creator, or created things? In his letter to the Roman church, the apostle Paul evidenced the repercussion of sin, “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25, NIV).

To worship means dying to oneself because of our sinful flesh and receiving the restoration of our purpose-driven life—the worship of Yahweh—from Jesus Christ, our Savior. So much of the focus of culture today is based upon what one can do and achieve. There’s an insatiable appetite for the aggrandizement of oneself—desiring god-like veneration is a dark cloud that suffocates the life-giving light needed for a life of worship (i.e., apotheosis). We read in 1 John 2:16, “For the world offers only craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we are not of this world, but only temporary residents sent to fulfill His will. The words of De La Soul, “Me, Myself and I,” are the banner being flown on the rooftops for all to see. Receiving recognition and accumulating achievements are golden calves of our current generation.

This ever-present attitude of false worship has also affected our biblical understanding of worship. Today, worship appears to be erroneously focused on the idol of musical style preference for consumers’ consumption rather than Jesus Christ, our true object of worship. Worship gatherings have developed into “about-me” experiences devoid of the Holy Spirit’s transformative influence and anointing. The compartmentalization of this holy activity to a weekly Sunday routine has seriously minimized the total life-orientation it necessitates of Christians. We’ve added worship to our “to-do list” of checked boxes as we spend the rest of the week (Monday-Saturday) on ourselves. Mark 12:30 is clear, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength”—our whole being.

How can one return to living a life of worship throughout the week? As disciples of Christ, we must be intentional in our desire to grow in a closer relationship with Jesus Christ—private worship. Such growth can only thrive by the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). In a world where performance overtakes the cultivation of one’s spiritual being, the first thing we lose is our intimacy with God. In his book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry,” John Mark Comer mentions, “When we get overbusy and life is hectic and people are vying for our time, the quiet place is the first thing to go rather than our first go to. The first thing we lose is unhurried time to just sit with God in the quiet. To pray. Read a psalm. Take an internal inventory. Let our souls catch up to our bodies.” One’s time management and the establishment of spiritual discipline nonnegotiables are vital to being in God’s presence beyond our worship gatherings on Sundays.

A close analysis of the gospels will confirm our Savior’s desire to be in the Father’s presence throughout His earthly ministry (i.e., Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 9:18). Jesus modeled practicing the presence with His disciples and to us. If we desire intimacy with Him, we must purposefully leave our chaotic and noisy world behind to seek His refreshing, restoring presence in solitude consistently. “Solitude is a formative place because it gives God’s Spirit time and space to do deep work…the world of recognition, achievement and applause disappears, and we stand squarely before God without props,” wrote Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her book “The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.” The intentional practice of the spiritual discipline of solitude will bring rest to one’s weary mind and restore confidence in whom you belong to. I’m reminded of the Salvation Army prayer chorus as I reflect on solitude:

Prayer gently lifts me to highest heaven,

From earth’s confusion to Jesus’ breast,

My sin and weakness, my doubt and sorry,

Are lost forever in sweetest rest.

Another essential spiritual discipline that will help us live out our life of worship throughout the week is having an accountability partner. We are not meant to walk this journey of faith alone and need one another to grow. God’s Spirit holds us accountable, and we also need trusted, God-fearing men and women of God to keep us honest to the life of holiness we are all walking. Scriptures such as, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” and “…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” are proof of the need for human accountability (James 5:16, NIV, Hebrews 3:13, NIV).

Friends, are you intentionally seeking Jesus Christ daily? Is His relationship a priority to you? Today, decide to follow Christ wholeheartedly by being in His presence through solitude and worship. From the overflow of your private worship, be a witness and serve the Kingdom with gladness.

Additional Resources:

Podcast:

  • Dr. Tony Evans’ 8-sermon series “Life in The Spirit.”

Books:

  • The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship by A. W. Tozer
  • The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practice that Transforms Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

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