I was just 16 years old when The Hunk and I first met. An avid musician, he visited my little Presbyterian church in Auckland, New Zealand, whilst attending a local worship conference. I was a singer in our church’s worship team.
We were literally brought together by worship.
Up until our first missions trip, five years into our marriage, we had no real concept of sacrificial living or giving for Jesus’ sake. We were gifted in music, and ministry up until that time had meant doing something we enjoyed.
Of course, sometimes it was hard work, getting up early for pre-church service warm-up or putting in extra hours for practices. We even sang on the streets of Auckland, whilst a drunk hurled abuse at our team and kicked our speaker around.
Our music ministry was something we lived for—but we were to discover something we could die for.
A Cause to Lay Our Lives Down for
Close friends of ours had a passion for world missions, and for Asia in particular. They invited us to meetings they were hosting in Auckland. We agreed, not because we were interested, but on the basis that they asked us to minister in song!
I do not remember what the speakers talked about that night, but I do recall the display boards that had been erected for the meeting. I was drawn to one that said, ‘Church Planting in Asia.’ It captured my imagination. I did not know it then, but it was to be a cause we would give our lives to for many years to come.
During our first short-term missions trip, we met with Chinese pastors who had been imprisoned for 20-22 years; we sat in an illegal house church meeting; we met missionaries who were being harassed and abused by government officials.
In China, my strong husband broke down in cried. In the face of such sacrifice he felt that God was saying, ‘Would you do this for me?’ It was a question that shook him to the core, and not one that he could immediately answer.
A similar defining moment occurred for me days later. I had not eaten properly for days due to food poisoning, and was about to spend the night in a bamboo hut.
‘What on earth am I doing here?’ I wondered. That’s when it dawned on me. ‘I’m here because I love Jesus.’ For the first time in my life, I was doing something for God that had taken me outside of my comfort zone.
By the time we returned home, world evangelisation had moved from being a casual interest to a burning passion.
We had also discovered that at its deepest level, worship is a life of surrender and obedience for the love of Jesus.
Biblical Worship—More Than Music
The primary context in which we use the word, ‘worship,’ today, is that of music.
However, in much the same way that a rainbow consists of not one, but a spectrum of many colours, the vehicle of music and song is just one of many aspects of Biblical worship.
I long to discover all of these—or as many as I can!
What I learn about Worship:
…from Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve expressed worship through unbroken fellowship with God—in a simple and intimate love relationship with Him.
Selah—I could spend a lifetime meditating on, learning and practicing this one way of worship.
It is significant that the first mention of the word ‘worship’ in the Bible is in the context of Abraham setting out to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. (Gen 22:3-5)
From Abraham, I learn the foundation of worship—surrender of my whole life to God, including my own agenda, passions and the people and things I love.
God instituted prescribed worship through the Law of Moses. This teaches me of God’s holiness.
It also reminds me of the unspeakable privilege that I have to enter His Presence by Jesus’ shed blood (Heb 10:19-22). I am awed at the price Jesus paid to restore us to face-to-face relationship with God, and the value He places upon true worship.
I long to have a heart of worship like David.
David housed the ark of God in an open tent, where—in addition to the prescribed offerings—the Levites surrounded the ark with a vibrant musical offering of praise and worship to God that went on night and day. (1 Chron 16)
David’s tabernacle is noteworthy in that it reflects and foreshadows throne room worship, where songs and profound exclamations of worship are given continually to God—24/7!
It is no wonder that there is a resurgence of this kind of worship in the church today!
In the Gospels, Jesus Himself lived out every different aspect of worship. He led His disciples in songs of worship, lived in intimacy with the Father, and laid down His life—calling His followers to follow His example.
In Jesus’ teaching on worship, He reveals what is most important to God. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
From Jesus, a challenge: I discover that there are worshippers God the Father actually seeks after. (see John 4:22-24)
I want to be that kind of worshipper.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul reiterates the role of the Holy Spirit in worship; that we are ones who ‘worship by the Spirit of God.’ (Phil 3:2)
And he brings us back to the very heart of worship—the offering of our whole lives to God:
“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 12:1-2
Worship Now and in Eternity.
We have all of eternity to marvel at God’s glory, and participate in worship at the throne of God.
But there is a kind of worship that exists only this side of heaven.
- We have an opportunity to walk in intimacy and a love relationship with God when it is counter-culture to the world around us.
- We have an opportunity to sing songs of heartfelt worship in the face of days, months or years of adversity.
- We have an opportunity to surrender our whole earthly lives in love and obedience to Him.
- We also have an opportunity to lay down our lives for His cause—to fulfil the desire of the Father—that people from every tribe and nation and language may worship in eternity before the throne of God. (Rev 7:9-10)
Lord, teach me to worship.
Do you have any experiences or questions to share on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog
On team with David McCracken Ministries