We're going through a small group study on purpose. Trying to answer that age old question, "what is our purpose"? "Why are we here"?
To that end, we're going through Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life and looking at it in the micro, trying to find out God's unique design for each of our lives. This depends on so many factors, like our individual bent in life. Our passions, our experiences, our circumstances.
But I love the approach the book gives to the macro.
Why do we as a human species exist? Why were we creating as just one other group of animals on this planet? What do we offer that others cannot? In those terms, our purpose becomes much clearer in the micro.
We as human beings are made for one primary purpose - to worship God.
"The Lord is pleased only with those who worship him and trust his love."
I think we inherently understand this as believers. We have that hard wired desire to worship something. We will devote all our attention and effort to something. That something might be ourselves and our pleasure. It might be our family. Our parents and pleasing them. Our spouse and living for them. Our children and providing everything for them. It might be our jobs and our success. It might be a prized possession, making an idol of our car, our home, our boat.
Yes, we all worship something.
When it comes to understanding the worship of God, we may have to adjust our definition of what worship is and what it isn't. Cause we don't think of it in these terms of devotion. We think of what we know and experience.
Worship isn't music. It isn't a particular style of music or a particular period of music. You don't worship first and then have preaching. Worship, in fact predates music, as Adam worshipped God and music isn't mention until a couple of chapters later with Jubal in Genesis 4.
Worship has nothing to do with a particular location. It has nothing to do with being in the building on Sunday morning. It does not need a pastor. It does not need a worship leader/music minister/song leader/whatever you want to call them. It does not need other people around you.
Worship isn't even about us. It's not about what we feel or what we get out of it. It's not about what we learn or what we take away. It's not about how we feel.
True worship is radically different.
Worship is whatever is pleasing to God.
Worship can include music, but it also includes all parts of a religious service. It's prayer, it's preaching, it's teaching. It's serving others.
Worship is everywhere. It's where two or more are gathered. It's being struck by the beauty of God's creation. It's singing along to your favorite song of praise in the car. It's showing mercy to others at your work.
Worship is for and about God. It's lifting high and glorifying his name.
In short, worship is a way of life. It's something you should be doing every day. Every hour, every second. It's doing whatever we do as if for the Lord.
It's why Stonepoint always ended with "Have a Great Week of Worship." It was a recognition that what happened on Sunday morning was only a brief blip in the worship of a believer.
Our danger lies in half-hearted worship. In going through the motions. While it is true, we sometimes must rest on ritual and wait for our feelings, our spirit to catch up, we must be careful not to repeatedly offer stale prayers that we don't expect to be answered, empty words, man-made ritual without even thinking of the meaning. God does not care for any of this. "I've come for mercy, not sacrifice." Jesus explicitly said to the most "religious" of his day, the high "worshipers" that he did not care for their sacrifices if their hearts didn't match.
This is also exactly what God complains of in Isaiah 29. His heart is not touched by the Israelites tradition in worship, but is looking for their passion and commitment. "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." Oh, that this not apply to the American church today. I fear it does far too often. Think of how much chatter there is when the order of worship is changed.
The challenge, then, is to be fully committed to worship. For our every activity to be done for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God. To be transformed into our act of worship. That way, it is so ingrained in our lives that we can't help but worship.
We know that is what the rest of creation does. What it was made for. So, it's our turn to join in that chorus and shout at the top of our voice:
So will I
"All we are
And all we have
Is all a gift from God that we receive
Brought to life
We open up our eyes
To see the majesty and glory of the King
He has filled our hearts with wonder
So that we always remember
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
When you and I embrace surrender
When you and I choose to believe
Then you and I will see who we were meant to be"
Made to Worship, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Stephan Sharp, 2006