Where do you worship?
The question was asked of Jesus, too – the Samaritan woman at the well asked him about it: “Our Fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that we must worship in Jerusalem…” (John 4). She was thinking that worshipping God was about a particular place.
But Jesus pointed out that worship didn’t have much to do with a particular venue, but that “a time is coming, and has now come, when the true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”.
Jesus’ response to her captures what I believe is God’s intention to restore in His people a heart for genuine worship as He intended it from the beginning.
Think about Adam, how did he worship? We know that he and God spent time together in the Garden. I suggest that Adam’s tending of the Garden that God had given him responsibility over, that was an act of worship. In fact, work was not – as we might think – a consequence of his sin, but already existed in a pure, pre-fall Garden too.
So if Adam worshipped in the Garden of Eden then sometimes worship is connected with a place!
Let us worship the Lord
If I were to invite you, “Let us worship the Lord”, what would you do? What comes into your mind?
Do you want to stand up, get on your knees, express words of adoration? Do you want to sing, “I will worship you…”
This is an excellent response! It’s an important part of our worship. But it is also just the start.
Let’s think about Abraham. In Gen 22, we see the very first use of the word worship. Abraham has been given a tough instruction by God to sacrifice his son. And when he tells his servant what he is going to do, he says “we will worship and then come back to you”.
He uses the word worship about an act of obedience.
And then the Psalmist calls us to “worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Ps 100). The Hebrew word used here – and one of the words for worship used widely in the Old Testament, abad, means to serve. So it’s the same thing: worship the Lord; serve the Lord. To the Hebrew people of God, worship and service were the same thing.
So it’s no surprise that in the early Church we see this from Paul, too. Paul goes further and makes a direct connection between sacrifice, and worship. He says to the Church in Rome, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom 12)
And then, he immediately goes on to say this: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
So Paul is making the direct connection between your act of worship, and knowing what God’s will is.
Our day-to-day work as worship?
Now, let’s connect that with our day to day work. If worship is doing God’s will in the place where He wants us to be, what better way to do that than through our day to day work?
If we know that through our work we are worshipping God, then this changes the way we get out of bed on a Monday morning; it changes the way we do our work, relate to our colleagues, and see our workplace. When we look for a job, we are looking for our next place of worship.
Now, when we get together and sing on a Sunday, “I will worship you Lord” this can be a genuine declaration of what we will be doing in our week ahead.
So we’ve taken a fresh look at worship, now I encourage you to take a fresh look at your work.
Is it a means to get by; a way to earn a salary; a step in your career; or an act of worship?
“My food“, said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish his work.”
‘My Work is Worship’ was the theme of our February 2013 breakfast meeting in Maidstone, Kent. We’ll be applying this into local church congregational groups during March.