A Life of Worship (Sep-Dec 2007)

By Matt Dabbs

by Keith Brenton
New Wineskins WebServant

Some months ago I proposed the positioning line “A Life of Worship” for the newly-conjoined ZOE Group | New Wineskins Web site before the advisory committee, believing that it encapsulated the objective mutually sought by both the online magazine and the inspirational worship ministry.*

“Worship” and “serve” are two words that occur together frequently in scripture. I think there’s a reason for that.

I think that serving God – letting Him work through us – gives us a glimpse of His work first-hand, and it inspires the praise He alone deserves.

I think that worshiping God – giving Him due credit for what He has done, whether through us or not – inspires the kind of selflessness and humility that are a prerequisite for God working powerfully through us.

They go hand-in-hand.

They are not segregated by time or space. We do not just worship between 8:30 a.m. and noon on Sundays, and serve only the remaining waking hours of our week. (“Enter to worship; depart to serve” is a charming sentiment, but it is certainly not scriptural.)

We serve by worshiping. We worship by serving.

A life of worship is a 24/7 lifestyle. Christ is not an article of formal wear we put on in order to look nice at church. In baptism, we put on Christ, never again for Him to be shrugged off and hung up because of the inconvenience He might cause in our lives.

We live like Him out of respect, gratitude, indebtedness, willing servitude.

Paul puts it this way to the flock he has not yet met in Rome:

“Therefore, 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.” ~ Romans 12:1

We offer our bodies because He offered His.

And if we deem His example too exalted to imitate, may I suggest an humble, human one: a aged woman; the Theresa of Calcutta of century one:

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. ~ Luke 2:36-38

What a tribute in three concisely-worded verses! I count these choices of hers worthy of enumerating separately:

  1. She never left the temple.
  2. She worshiped night and day.
  3. She fasted and prayed.
  4. She gave thanks to God.
  5. She told about Jesus to all who would listen.

Anna lived a life of worship.

Her example may seem extreme, but I truly believe that if you and I just chose one of those avenues of service, and prayed for guidance in it and focused solely on it until it had mastered us … then another … and another … if we only were mastered by two or three of them, we would still be well on our way to a life of worship.

And God would be very, very praised.

Now, what are the implications of a life of worship?

These are the conclusions I’ve drawn:

1. Gathered Worship is still vital.
I don’t agree with those who conclude that living a life of worship means that Sunday is just like any other day. Our worship as gathered followers of Christ is important. We need it. God knows that. It was His idea, from the very first days of creation, that one day should be spent in re-creation. No, not just recreation, but re-creation: rest in His presence, in awareness of His love and righteousness and will for us … and in meditating on it together. Why “together”?

Because very few of us get it all right all by ourselves. We help shape and teach and mature and mentor each other. We fill each other’s lacks and deficits. We gain strength from each other, especially when we worship together. We reinforce each others’ faith. We also get on each others’ nerves. So we learn patience and love and forgiveness and many other Godly traits from being with each other. And we are more credible witnesses to the world at large, which still tends to accept the testimony of two or three as preferable to just one. God knows that, too. So He is present in a unique way when we are together, still serving our needs in the Person of His Son – serving us the elements of the bread and the cup.

Plus, we have the opportunity to be like Christ in accommodating the worship preferences of others. We sing songs that bless others even when we are not blessed by them. We refuse to judge or take offense when others express their praise in ways different from our own. We overlook the flaws of our leaders and encourage them and pray for them, rather than insisting on deposing them and having all the worship done the way each of us individually prefers. Don’t we? God knows that we should, and that is part of the reason He wants us to worship together – to become more like Christ in His selflessness.

2. Gathered worship is deeper when we can see God working in our lives the other six days of the week.
To clarify that: “when we can see God working in our lives individually and corporately.” We are more thankful for what God is doing when we have been trying to perceive it in others and be a part of it ourselves. We are more likely to give God the glory when we see that He is working through others, too – not just “me.”

We are less likely to be concerned about the way in which worship is expressed when it is clearly in spirit and in truth.

If worship were tp be attempted by a body in which all its parts were identical in form and function, it would be clumsily performed – “all thumbs,” you might say. God knows that. Therefore, He gifts us differently as members of the body of Christ, so that we will work together.

3. Gathered worship is not a substitute for individual worship and daily service – nor vice-versa.
People grow and mature daily – not in spurts every seven days. God has never had any interest in the expressions of worship from anyone who consistently lives a life that serves self above others.

If we perceive gathered worship as dull and lifeless and disspirited and that Christ is absent from it, it is quite possible that it is – because we have failed to invite Him, neglected to bring Him with us, and pushed His Spirit from our hearts because they are too filled with self for there to be room for Him. He is not satisfied with just going to church with us. He wants us to serve daily in His kingdom, too. God knows we need that; to stay constantly busy and not easily distracted by the one who calls attention to the seemingly endless demands of self.

4. Sacrifice never left the building.
We should be talking about Jesus’ sacrifice as the atoning one for our sins, and we should be talking about it more frequently and confidently. In fact, we should be living sacrifices, imitating His – providing the members of our bodies as instruments of His peace in all that we say or do on His behalf. God knows that. That’s why it has always been a part of His plan.

5. A life of worship never ends.
Check out the pictures that John paints of eternity in the Revelation to him. See what the angels and elders and four living creatures spend most of their eternity doing. Does that sound boring? Chances are, if you don’t enjoy it here and now, you wouldn’t enjoy it there and forever, either. Try seeing it for more than it appears to be in those verses. In worshiping God, they are giving Him credit for the perfect holiness that made it possible for a relationship with Him; for the forgiveness of sins and the infinite potential of life itself. On that unending day when the new heavens and the new earth intersect, there will be nothing but good to do – together.

That’s what makes eternal life exciting to anticipate … and living out that anticipation makes a life of worship worthwhile.


*At the time – as a relative newcomer to New Wineskins – I had no idea that almost ten years before, Jim Martin had written the excellent Wineskins article, “Worship as a Way of Life”, which put the phrase “a life of worship” to its full use!

Keith Brenton serves as WebServant for New Wineskins. He describes himself at his blog [Blog In My Own Eye] as a “stumbling follower of Christ, husband, dad, writer, occasional Bible class teacher, currently serving as communications specialist at a large metro church. Someone who questions reality and won’t settle for an evasive answer.” He occasionally posts at [the New Wineskins blog]. You can reach him by e-mail at [wineskinsnew@gmail.com].

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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