“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. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Whenever we spend some time reflecting upon the calling which we have to become people who worship the living God we find ourselves confronted by some very important decisions which we must make. Are we contemplating the style of Worship Service we prefer, or are we asking some more fundamental questions regarding what happens when we enter into a relationship with God? It seems that this is what is at the heart of the discussion between Jesus and the woman at the well in John four. She asks about the correct place and presumably the correct style. He answers that what is important is that we become worshippers. True worship is a spiritual relationship with God that can only come about as a result of His Spirit’s intervention in our lives. We must drink of the Living Water if we are to worship Him.
In Romans 12:1ff the Apostle Paul tells us that real worship involves a complete surrender of ourselves to God through Christ. This surrender results in a transformation of our thinking by the work of the Holy Spirit. We become Christ centred in our thinking and in our lifestyle. This is why Paul writes this just before he begins his exploration of the gifts of the spirit as they operate in the Christian church. Our whole way of living is transformed by real worship.
In 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 Paul tells us that this transformation, which comes from deep inside us as the Holy Spirit does His work in us, comes about as a result of our honestly looking upon the LORD. Worship requires that we get to know the real LORD Jesus Christ as He is revealed to us in God’s Word. To see Him in all of His awesome holiness causes us to also see our own sinfulness. This brings us into such a deep experience of conviction that we must repent and confess our sin. This is what we discover in Isaiah six when the Prophet sees God and comes to see his own sinfulness as well. Isaiah’s only hope is found as he confesses his sin and receives God’s gracious gift of atonement through the coal from the altar.
When we worship in this way we find ourselves drawn into a transformational fellowship with God in Christ. We will truly never be the same as a result. There is another discovery that we make as well. This is that real Biblical Worship also brings us into fellowship with other believers who are experiencing this same grace.
D. A. Carson in Worship by the Book, quotes from Marianne Meye Thompson, “Worship serves the indispensible function of uniting us with “all the saints,” living and dead. In fact one of the most important things that worship accomplishes is to remind us that we worship not merely as a congregation or a church, but as part of the church, the people of God. John reminds his readers that their worship is a participation in the unceasing celestial praise of God. So too, the worship of God’s people today finds its place “in the middle” of a throng representing every people and nation, tribe and tongue.” (Thompson, Worship in the book of Revelation)
Carson adds, “Worship is no longer something connected with set feasts, such as the Passover, or a set place, such as the Temple; or set Priests, such as the Levitical system prescribed. It is for all the people of God at all times and places, it is bound up with how they live.”