Part 2 of 2
By Dallas Burdette January 25, 1998
Thrust Statement: Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, which is your spiritual act of worship.
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:1-4, 9-13
In Part One, I stressed that the coming of Gods kingdom is a call to worship. In that first sermon, I asked each of you to reflect upon what the kingdom of God means to you in your daily walk with God. Has your consciousness of Gods kingdom made a difference in your life style? Has the kingdom of God made a difference in the way you treat your spouse? Has the kingdom of God made a difference in the way you treat your neighbors? Has the kingdom of God made in difference in the way you treat people in general? Do you still visit the same ungodly places? Do you still speak profane words? Do you still read unholy literature? Are you now reading your Bible more and more each week? Are you meeting with the people of God on Sundays? In other words, has the kingdom of God made in difference in your life? I request that each of you examine your own life and decide what difference Christianity has had upon your behavior.
Do you remember the thrust statement in Part One of this message? I said that the coming of Gods kingdom is a call to worship? What did this statement convey to you? When I said a call to worship, did you immediately think about the service on Sunday morning? Is that what worship means to you? Or is it more? Is worship more than simply meeting during the week as a collective body? Does worship include how you live? When you feed the hungry, do you consider that worship? When you live a godly life, do you consider that worship? Does your concept of worship consist of five-acts of ritual performed on Sunday morning? Does worship start at 10am and end at 11a.m? Does one stop worshiping God after 11am? These are questions that every believer needs to address in his or her own life.
Worship: What Is It?
Today, I want to develop a broader theme of worship than what takes place on Sunday morning. Since this sermon is about a call to worship, then, worship needs to be defined. As previously stated, the dominant theory of worship is generally associated with five acts (singing, praying, preaching, giving, and communion) performed Sunday morning. This opinion is only a part of the misconception of worship. If someone were to ask you to define worship, how would you explain it? If someone were to interrogate you as to where worship takes place, how would you respond? Is worship regulated to a specific locality? Is worship confined to a specific time frame? Is worship like a sink faucet that one cuts on and off at will? Is worship something that you perform once a week? Is participation in preaching, singing, praying, giving, and breaking bread concrete extensions of ones worship? Is one only worshipping God when he or she is involved in one of these five acts?
In the New Testament, one quickly discovers that worship is never identified with a prearranged period of time, or a set of ordered ceremony. In fact, worship is never defined in the New Testament. So, what is it? It seems, so it appears to me, that worship may be regarded as ones response to God because of His nature, His attributes, His ways, and His claims upon man. Because of redemption from Gods wrath, from law, from dominion of sin, and from condemnation, then, one honors and serves God. Within every believer there is an outgoing heart of praise and thanksgiving for all His blessings. Worship not only includes homage given to God, but also service to God.
The believer begins his worship by being baptized in the name of Jesus. One begins his Christian life with baptism. For in this sign one demonstrates that he or she belongs to the people of God. It is, in one sense, our entrance into the fellowship of the church. Paul informed Titus that "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). Many commentators identify Christian baptism as the "washing of rebirth." Not only does Paul connect the "washing of regeneration" with baptism, but he also says that this renewal is brought about through the agency of the Holy Spirit. In this same connection, the words of Peter are appropriate here, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Worship an Extension of Ones Worship
Ones way of living is an outward manifestation of his or her worship. Worship must, above all, serve the glory of God. Christian worship is Spirit-filled. It involves every area of ones life, not just Sunday morning gatherings. Worship is an extension of ones life. In other words, prayers, singing, giving, teaching are expressions of worship, whether private or corporate; that is to say, worship is an extension of ones dedication to God through daily communion When Christians assemble as a corporate body to sing, pray, give, teach, break bread, and exhort, these acts are simply a capsulation of what has already taken place during the week. You are here today because you are a worshiper of God.
A classic example of this concept of worship is in Pauls letter to the Roman Christians. He writes:
Paul issues practical advice for every believer. Even though Paul develops the scheme of redemption in extremely delightful language, he never losses sight of the earthly responsibilities of every believer. He shouts, as it were, "offer your bodies as living sacrifices." The Christian believes that the body as well as the soul belongs to God. In fact, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul captures this truth in his first letter to Corinth:
When Christians, as a whole, think of worship, they think of a building designed by an architect and built by laborers. It then becomes a shrine where men and women congregate to worship God. This building is a product of the mind and the body and the spirit of some man or woman. But Paul is saying something different.
Paul appeals to the Christians to "offer your bodies a living sacrifice." In other words, take your everyday task to your work. Your work may be as a school teacher, a mailman, a secretary, a nurse, a hair stylist, a supermarket employee, a disk jockey, and so on. The word for "service" in verse one is "latreian," which is also translated as worship. The verb form of this word originally meant to "work for hire or pay." It later came to mean to "serve." But it also came to mean that "to which a man gives his whole life." For Paul, true worship is the offering of ones body to God. Real worship is not offering to God a liturgy that consist of five-acts performed on Sunday morning, but real worship is the offering of everyday life to Him, not simply something performed in a church building once a week on Sunday morning.
Perhaps, a man may say, legitimately, "I am going to church to worship," but he should also be able to say, "I am going to the factory, the shop, the office, the school, the garage, the restaurant, the nursing home, the hospital, and so on, to worship God." Let us begin each day by surrendering our bodies to the Lord. Let us spend time with his word; let us transform our minds and prepare our thinking for the new day; let us present our bodies a living sacrifice which is our spiritual act of worship.
Since the Kingdom of God has invaded time to bring individuals the blessings of the age to come, then, a person must make a decision that is so radical that it involves turning his back, if necessary, upon all things to follow Christ. This may involve turning ones back upon ones own home:
What is Jesus saying? He is simply stating that any tie or human affection that stands in the way of ones decision for the Kingdom of God and for Jesus must be broken. A person must be willing to rupture any loyalty when he or she renders a determination for Gods kingdom. In the words of Jesus: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). In the presenting of ones body to the Lord, one must be ever conscious that he or she is not to let sin dwell in his or her body. Remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul deals with this idea in the Roman letter when he writes:
As Christians we are to let Gods word fill our souls, our hearts, and our minds. This is not restricted to a Sunday morning meeting, but it envelops the whole of your life. Paul reminded the Colossians:
If we do not offer our bodies as our spiritual act of worship, then, what we do on Sundays is nothing to God. The nation of Israel, in the time of Isaiah (739 BC), relied upon their rituals to make everything all right. But God was not pleased. How do we relate to the poor, the naked, the hungry, and so on? Is a so-called worship service sufficient? Is fasting sufficient? Is teaching a Bible class sufficient? Israel thought so! Listen to God as He questioned Israel:
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
When you think of fasting, what do you think of? Is fasting simply doing without food? When you think of worship, what do you think of? Can fasting be caring for the poor? Can worship be caring for the poor? I want you to listen again to Gods response to all their rituals:
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
Does this sound like the parable of Jesus in his last week of ministry on earth? You remember the parable, dont you? Yes, it is in Matthews gospel (25:31-46). Almost eight hundred years after Isaiah, the religious leaders still had not learned what it was all about. Have you? In closing our message today, I call your attention, once more, to Pauls admonition following his call to offer ones body as his spiritual act of worship:
Preached: Grassy Church of Christ, Arab, Alabama
January 25, 1998, 11 am