Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Worship as a way of life

When you leave church after a service, what goes through your mind I wonder? Getting to or back to work on time maybe, heading to the supermarket or high street or mall to get some shopping done, sorting the next meal, where to go to eat lunch ... I am sure at some point one or all of these have been the focal point.

So let me ask a question, regardless of the type of church you go to, what do you take away from the service, from the worship of the church? What continues with you through the day, the week ahead? In our church there will have been some lively as well as more reflective songs, prayers (open and led), a sermon ... But what of that goes with us?

Talking with someone recently they were telling how they were really getting into the idea that church on Sunday should be for those who don't usually come, those who some might call the unchurched (apologies IMO a horrible tag), and that those who are followers of Jesus should get their teaching, etc from week time home groups, bible studies and such. This was based on a church which had great success doing just that I would guess, without knowing the book or the church, a sort of seeker service model.

In our church a number have families to look after, long work hours with commutes and for many attending mid-week groups just does not work. So how do we encourage a life of serving and growing in Christ in the lives of all who come through our Sunday services, if that is our situation? (and from folks I have talked to that is much more common).

Earlier in the year I was working through some material from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity related to worship and our everyday lives. The series was called Whole Life Worship.
This had me thinking more about a whole life attitude to serving God where-ever we are, what-ever we are doing. Each aspect of life being a part of our worship of God. Nothing new there I thought, its what I have tried to do for years, not always successfully.

As I considered more what it means to worship God in everything, to revisit this, a number things were signposted, one was the offering. We don't take up a collection in our service but have collection bags at the door for folks to put into as they come in, should they wish. But we have, at least since I have been the pastor, brought the bags forward in the service to remind ourselves of the giving that provides for the church and of all of God's gifts and blessings to us. One of our offerings should be ourselves. Putting God first in everything, trying to remember him and thank God when things are good, praying and asking for his help, wisdom and strength to handle or face whatever in our day. Praising god with songs and words throughout the day.

Psa 96:8  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. 
Psa 96:9  Worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 

At the time that this was written the temple in Jerusalem was the place to go to worship and make an offering to God. Today, through Christ, we have access to God where-ever we are. Yes it is good to worship together in church ,we should not set that aside. But we need also to remember that we can and should worship God in everything, every act, thought, word - now that is a real challenge. Maybe that is in part why Paul wrote that we need to need to make every thought obedient to Christ.

2Co 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I think if each of us truly worked on this, making every act, thought, word a part of our worship of God, what a difference it would make. It would enrich our lives in every way, prayer, songs, the bible would all take on a more colourful and wonderful aspect and play a much more important part in our everyday. What amazing testimonies we would have to share when we gather with the church, what an incredible impact it would have on those we associate with outside of church, Maybe we then wouldn't need the discussion about whether our church services are for those who already know Jesus or those who don't. Because then all would be challenged, fed and encouraged when we come together.

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