Thursday, 8 July 2010

Following Jesus is a renewal of worship

This continues my series on a biblical theology of worship. Note: long post follows.

Christians are people formed by Christ’s act of worship. We are people of his cross and resurrection.

The first thing we need to do is accept his act of worship on our behalf. Christ’s cross mocks our pathetic efforts at worship; his resurrection shatters our complacent assumption that our acts of worship make us worthy of God’s acceptance. We must put aside our own efforts and accept Christ’s work on our behalf (Acts 13:38-39; Gal 2:15-16; Php 3:4b-7). “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling.” But we can happily discard our own acts of worship, because that same cross and resurrection that judges them also forgive us and give us relationship with God.

As noted above, to worship Christ is to worship the one true God. To not worship Christ is to not worship God (John 8:24, 28, 58). Christians are therefore true worshippers. The act of putting our trust in Jesus – what we call ‘conversion’ – is the paradigmatic act of worship, because it entails turning from false gods – false religions, religious self-righteousness, career, money, relationships – to the one true God in Christ (Acts 2:38; 17:27-31; 1 Thess 1:9-10).

That paradigmatic moment of conversion also realigns the rest of our lives. We now live our whole lives to worship God in Christ by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit works invisibly within us to create that whole-hearted, whole-person, whole-life devotion that the old testament looked forward to (Deut 10:16; Jer 31:31-24; Gal 5:16-26). Worship therefore covers all aspects of our life: our sexual behaviour (1 Cor 6:12-20); how we treat our family (Eph 6:1-4; 1 Tim 5:4, 8); how we conduct our commercial relationships of employment or business (Eph 6:5-9). A significant part of this realignment is how we treat weak people, such as wives (1 Pet 3:7), widows (1 Tim 5:4, 8), and the poor (Acts 2: 44-45; 4:32-37; 6: 1-6; James 2:14-26).

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. (Rom 12:1)
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ (Abraham Kuyper)
This God-ward, Christ-ward realignment – this renewed worship – is itself evangelistic. Individual Christians (1 Pet 3:13-17), and the church community (1 Thess 1:6-10), will stand out against the idolatry of the world (Acts 17:19-24; 19:23-27). This will often result in irrational hatred and persecution (John 15:18-25; 1 Pet 4:1-5). But, by the grace of God, our worship might draw some to worship God in Christ (1 Cor 14:24-25; 2 Cor 2:15-16). They just might want what we have.

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