I once read that worship is “being preoccupied with God” and that the preoccupation comes through cultivating intentionality with God. As I thought about that, it seemed to connect with another truth about worship – worship is a relationship.
Worship has far more to do with relationship than with music. Paul Baloche has said that worshipping God with music is simply a tool to help us connect relationally with a living God. God created us to be in relationship with Him. But the ease of that happening changed dramatically when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and were banished. Yet, our very make-up still longs to be in relationship with God. Unfortunately, we often look to other ways and people to fill that deep need. And so God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ was carried out as a way for us to once again be in relationship. And it’s through that relationship with Jesus Christ that we worship to the glory of God.
We must remember that we don’t gather on Sunday mornings to make our selves happy or to sing our favorite songs. It’s not about us as individuals. It’s about the Body of Christ, focusing on and giving glory to God, and getting ready to live out the glory of Christ. It’s about tuning a group of sometimes confused, sometimes discouraged, and always separate hearts to Christ. To bring ourselves in line with Christ so that our relationship with God can be all it’s meant to be. If your worship team didn’t tune together before playing, it would be awful. When things are in tune, it is harmonious and beautiful. Think of an orchestra. The tuning process is painful to hear, but necessary so that they can together create an awesome sound.
Think about the relationships in your life. Think about the ones that have gone or are going well. Think about the ones that haven’t or aren’t going well. There are lots of different factors that work into our relationships, but I have a theory. I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up, but it seems to hold true. The relationships that are good are the ones that we’re fully engaged in. Men, let’s be honest – when our marriages aren’t going well it’s usually because we’re not fully engaging with the woman God has blessed us with.
Here’s the thing – the same is true when it comes to God and worship. Our relationship with God and our worship of Him is at its best when we are fully engaged in that relationship and worship. That engagement happens through a variety of ways in a variety of venues and at a variety of times. Beyond music, worship can look like reading, hearing, and applying the Word of God, tithing, serving, loving others, meditating on who God is, making our prayers more than just requests, developing an attitude of thankfulness, surrendering full control of our life to God, and responding to the truth of God by living it out in our daily lives.
In thinking about this, the words of Romans 12:1-2 come to mind. In the Message version, it’s phrased this way:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
May our lives be lives of worship that flow out of a constantly growing and engaged relationship with Him that is consistently transforming us from the inside out.