The following message was given at the St. Andrews Scarborough Praise and Worship Night on Saturday, October 26th, 2019. It adapts and expands upon our earlier series, “Drawing Near,” from August 13th.
What comes to mind when you hear the word worship?
A lot of us, when put on the spot, would say that worship is about music. We have images of guitars or pipe organs, Hillsong or church choirs. But the Bible tells us that worship isn’t limited to music alone.
Paul writes in Romans 12, “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.” This means that everything we do, if done for the glory and honour of God, is worship.
My friend Stephan and I run a blog together, and a couple months ago, we wrote a series (which this talk right now is slightly adapted from) about our time working with Indigenous kids at the Serpent River First Nation this summer, and the way we saw worship while we were there. It was so cool to be on the look-out for it, because it really did show how much goes into worship that we don’t often think about.
Worship can be anything that glorifies and honours God, but really, it’s less about what you do and more about how you do it. It’s not like checking boxes–not like” if I go to church on Sunday, sing all the songs, and volunteer in Sunday School once a month, then I’m worshiping.” Rather, worship is all about posture.
How many of you just sat/stood up a little straighter? If you didn’t, don’t worry–that’s not what I mean by posture.
In the first song that our wonderful band led tonight, we sang, “When you fall, we fall on our knees, and when you fall, we fall at your feet.” That’s a better idea of what I mean when I say posture. In fact, “proskuneo,” the greek word that we often translate as “worship” throughout the Bible means to kneel down, bow before someone, and even kiss their feet. To do so would demonstrate love, adoration, respect, (hopefully) trust, and an understanding that they are greater than you are.
We see Mary (Jesus’ friend, not his mom) doing this in Luke 7 when she kneels down to clean Jesus’ feet with ointment and her own tears. We see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down like this for King Nebuchadnezzarr’s gold statue in Daniel 3 (don’t worry–God had their back, so they were fine). And we see Peter stop Cornelius the Centurion from kneeling down like this before him in Acts 10, because Peter knew that it was only God who deserved this sort of worship.
Now, if I’m telling you that you can worship in everything you do, does that mean you should just hobble around on your knees? Not really. What it does mean is that we can focus on the things that bowing down represents–love, adoration, respect, trust, reverence–all of that, in all we do.
The thing is that you can’t really go without worshipping. There’s always gonna be something bigger than you, something that you put first, something that you pour all your love into. For me before I knew Jesus, it was money, or work, which sorta go hand in hand in a lot of ways. For others it’s school, or success, or relationships, or sex, or–well I think you get the point.
That’s not say any of these things are necessarily bad–they’re all either good or, like money, useful as tools. But if we let them become our focus, they become the thing we worship.
Let me use an example from my own life. How many of you are in school right now? Myself, I’m currently between schools, having just graduated from George Brown from the Child and Youth Care program earlier this year. Before that, I had studied Police Foundations at Centennial, but the two experiences could not be more different.
At Centennial, I focused all my energy on getting the best grades so that I could prove I was successful, even though so many people had made me think I was a failure all my life. But all that really led to was constant stress to the point that my mental health was in a very dangerous place.
On the other hand, at George Brown, I focused on surrendering my studies to God. That doesn’t mean I just stopped putting in the work and left it up to God to do anything, but rather that I trusted that he has the best interests for me, so I didn’t need to worry about myself, and whatever I did in school–however hard I worked or what my attitude was each day–was a reflection of the love he has for me, the ways he has blessed me, and my hope to share his love with others.
I’m not gonna lie and say there wasn’t still some stress, but I knew where to take it when there was. I knew who was in control. And I graduated with honours.
Paul also gives a really good example of this relationship in 1 Corinthians 10. He’s talking about food, which, I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of. But in the context of the people who he was writing to, there was some disagreement about whether believers should be eating with nonbelievers. Paul reminds his readers that the Good News of Jesus isn’t about what food we should or shouldn’t eat, but about revealing that God has come to live among us and tear us from the clutches of death. So, he says “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Use your eating, and your drinking, and your use of money, and your work, and school, and relationships, and successes, and failures to show and tell people about the God who makes all of it matter.
We’re going to transition in a moment into a time of prayer where I’ll encourage you to worship in a way that might be new to you. We’ve got a couple of stations around the room: journaling, beading, and drawing. I’d encourage you to think about the way you worship and how that impacts the way you live. Spoiler alert–they’re kind of the same thing.
If I wanted you to take away anything from this message it would be this: we’ve got to bring everything before God. Worship means laying all of ourselves–including our cares, worries, and fears–at Jesus’ feet. Because we know that he is faithful, and we know that he loves us more deeply than we can ever know, and we know that because of him we are forgiven and free.
If you don’t know this forgiveness and freedom–if you feel like you don’t know him, or you would like to know him better, there are people here who will pray with you. You are never too far, it is never too late, and there is nothing so big that you cannot lay it before him.
And so, let us live together like that. Let us live lives of worship, pointing in all we do to the one who loves us first and best. Let us live and work like God is with us, because he is.
We hope you enjoyed this slightly different type of Confession from Crickets, and while you’re still reading, we’d like to stress that that call at the end of the message–the opportunity to get to know the forgiveness and freedom that are found in Jesus–is not only for those who were at the praise and worship event where this message was given. It’s for you too. If this Jesus intrigues you, please drop us a line either in our contact section, or in the messages of whatever social media led you here. No matter where you are on your journey–if this is the first time you’ve heard of Jesus, if you have been thinking about him for a while and want to learn more, or even if you’ve known Jesus for a lifetime, but would like to know him better–it would be our distinct pleasure to invite you to come and see the God who makes it all matter.