?Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God?s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God?this is your true and proper worship? (Romans 12:1 niv).
Anyone who knows me knows that I can?t talk for long without getting around to worship. It?s the thing I?m most passionate about. Paul, in the book of Romans, gives a beautiful and maybe surprising picture of what worship is: ?Therefore,? he wrote, ?present your bodies as a living sacrifice? (Romans 12:1 esv). In other words, ?Surrender your life, body, and soul, to God. Give yourself up!? One key word in Paul?s instruction shows me that he wasn?t talking about a martyr?s sacrifice; that word is living. He wasn?t suggesting followers of Jesus should all die for their faith; he was asking them all to live for it?with lives of sacrifice that were holy and acceptable to God. Worship is a lived experience.
When we surrender ourselves to God, we worship him. Surrendering doesn?t lead us into worship; our surrender is our worship. The proper response of someone who has been given everything is to present their very life to the one who has given them everything. I can?t present myself as a holy and blameless sacrifice on the basis of my track record, but I can present myself to God as holy and blameless based on his mercy! We don?t surrender our lives to God to gain his favor. We offer ourselves to him in response to the favor he?s already freely shown us, because of the saving work of Jesus.
Worship is a time to show God his worth, and the worth of God is not something that depreciates or fluctuates over time. It?s solid. Constant. Steady. So, even though we may go through hard seasons when our hearts fail us, worship is still a reasonable act. Does it sound strange to be that matter-of-fact about something as powerful and potentially life-changing as worship? It shouldn?t?not if your intent is to be a sacrifice and if your surrender is your praise.
We may think that we initiate worship by coming to church or by singing a hymn or by stilling our hearts with a quiet prayer, but it?s God who initiates worship. Every time. He invites us into his presence. We never come to him unbidden. We have access to him in worship because he has made himself available to us, not the other way around!
Worship is the lived experience of offering myself, moment by moment and day by day, to a living God. It is opening my hands and letting go of whatever I am clinging to instead of him. It is acting as if everything he says about himself and about me is absolutely true. When I surrender my life as a sacrifice to God, I am worshiping him. Every moment of prizing God is a re-ordering of my own status. He reigns; therefore, I do not. He rules; therefore, I do not. He is sovereign; therefore, I am not.
If the thought of opening your hands to God and offering him your life sounds too scary, too big, too terrifying, try this. Surrender the moment in front of you right now. Pray the prayer that?s on your heart today, this moment, even if you?re not sure of the words.
How have you defined worship in the past?
How does surrender give God his rightful place in your life? How does surrender become worship in your life?
What prayer is on your heart today? How can you surrender that area of your life to God?