Day 6: WORSHIP— Are You up to Worshiping God through Sacrifice?
'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.'—Romans 12:1 (NIV)
('a living sacrifice… this is your true and proper worship'—Romans 12:1): Worship—Photo by NC-Mineral on Unsplash
Blog #008 Exercise or existence?
Romans 12:1 goes a long way to distinguish between an exercise of worship and an existence of worship.
For us, it is simple enough to understand worship as praise music, that thing all churches seem to do as a prelude to the preacher sharing on a Sunday morning.
Nowadays, there is such a great variety of worship music from talented Christian musicians in a diverse range of genres. It’s easier than ever to worship God through song. However, I think simultaneously; it is harder than ever to worship God through sacrifice.
In our social context, we have everything we think we could possibly ever need. Just look no further than the latest expansions to Fountain Gate, now even if I want to see a theatre production I don’t have to go any further than my own suburb.
You worship what you idolise
Thanks to the mighty Internet, we can pour countless hours into any number of things, all competing for our attention and subsequently our worship. Don’t you realise that you worship what you idolise?
Yet, this verse flips the precedent of worshiping what is pleasurable to us on its head, and instead classifies worship as being sacrifice. In fact, instead of worshiping what is pleasing to us, this scripture speaks of true and proper worship as being pleasing to God.
We’ve spoken a little bit about worship as praise music, and one of the many songs we sing is called O Come to the Altar. In Christian circles we sing this sentence “Oh come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide” like it is the fluffiest, sweetest thing ever—but if you have an understanding of the purposes of an altar you would know that is far from the truth.
A call to the altar is a call to die
A call to the altar is a call to die. Traditionally, animals were slaughtered and sacrificed on altars in worship to God.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice when he did much the same in allowing himself to be brutally murdered on a cross in order to redeem humanity of their sins.
The writer of Romans, Paul, is cleverly proposing here that after the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and Jesus’ complete and perfect sacrifice on the cross there is actually only one more sacrifice left: you.
The scripture says because of God’s mercy, offer up your body. Our sacrifice is out of reverence to God, a deep gratitude, realising there is nothing else left we can do but offer him everything we have.
He has done so much for us collectively, saving us from an eternity of suffering, and individually I encourage you to reflect on God’s mercies in your personal life.
Not just proclamation—Posture
Just as the voice is one part of the body, so too is praise music one part of worship. This kind of worship is not just a proclamation of worship but a posture of worship.
If praise is hands up, worship would be head down. Not just songs of worship, but actions and attitudes, dreams and desires sacrificed to the will of God.
It’s choosing to preference the things of God’s heart over the things of your own.
Maybe as Christians we sometime glorify sacrifice in a way that undermines it.
Perhaps it serves our agenda of getting more volunteers in our team, or reaching desired outcomes in our ministry—whatever that may be.
Sacrifice is more than just giving of one’s time or resources, as praiseworthy and admirable as those things are.
Worship is a daily death
Worship is a daily death, to say that I am no longer going to live for myself but instead allow Jesus Christ to take control of my body and live through me.
It is you decreasing in order that Jesus would increase in your life. This is a great and difficult lesson, I know, but He is Lord of all, the only one deserving of our life of worship.
I’ve been quite challenging in my tone. Know that I only write this way as God challenged me with this first for 2018.
Our human nature strives and struggles against this depth of sacrifice. There is a Beautiful Eulogy song with the lyric “Fighting with myself but my opponent is dead”.
Your flesh, your body itself doesn’t want to be offered up as a sacrifice to God.
We need to acknowledge that in view of God’s mercy, our own desires are already as good as dead, anyway.
Be encouraged that as we fast, we are exercising self-discipline over our bodies.
Fasting itself is a perfect example of sacrificial worship.
Today I suggest that if you don’t already, you get down on your knees and offer yourself to God on the altar.
Prostrate yourself before God, reflect on his mercy and kindness in your life, and accept his mastery and kingship over your life.
For the glory of God and the good of many.
Join in the conversation
This devotion has possibly been the most confrontational to date. Did it make you feel uncomfortable? It did me! Why not share your thoughts below and contribute to the ongoing conversation.