I recently bought a live worship CD, and the songbook which accompanies it. I've been sitting in front of the CD player, songbook spread open on my desk, guitar in my lap, fervently attempting to learn chord progressions I've never encountered before. At one point, I stopped trying to pluck out the chords and just listened to the words which were being sung by the worship leader: "Jesus, what a beautiful Name. Son of God, Son of Man, Lamb that was slain." The song moved me so much I felt I had no other choice than to close my eyes and just worship the Lord. Then the next song played, and another. My heart and spirit felt high above anything here on earth.
Throughout the rest of the day, I kept thinking on the words of those songs. Pondering their meaning in my heart, finding that I just didn't want to be able to sing the worship song, but experience it. The Lord brought this verse to mind:
Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJV)
Some translations render the last part as "your spiritual act of worship".
Worship of God is a sacrifice. He doesn't merely want us to read His Word for the simple act of reading one chapter before the sun goes down. He doesn't want us to be involved in ministry because it's the thing to do and it gives us the warm fuzzies. He doesn't want us to worship Him only because we can sing on key, clap on the beat, or play an instrument. God wants us to experience Him. It's living a life of worship, physically, and more importantly, spiritually.
Worship of God is a sacrifice. God will remove that which we hold most dear, allowing us to suffer through great pain, in order that we would experience Him to the greatest degree possible. He'll use affliction, a broken heart, or our present circumstances to draw us nigh unto Him so that He can draw nigh unto us. God will also use these things when we think no one else is looking, that others may be encouraged by our faith.
Worship of God is a sacrifice. It's about death. It's about ministering to others without regard for self. It's about picking up the small child and wiping away the tears without saying, "Get over it." It's about dropping a bag of groceries off on the doorstep for a needy family. It's about dragging myself off the couch and gathering with brothers and sisters in Christ when I don't want to. It's about following the call of God through Christ in life, even into a third-world country. Worship of God is about dying to one's self.
Worship of God is truly a sacrifice. God wants our lives to be lives of worship, not just on the stage, nor when we feel like it. God wants our lives to be lives of worship. Period.
Prayer: Lord, help us to offer ourselves to you as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service and our spiritual worship. In Jesus' name. Amen.