As we enter the fourth week of the series Ups & Downs, we have talked about trust, obedience, and following God even when it is hard. Another topic that is very important even in the pruning and harvesting seasons of our lives is the significance of worship.
When we think of worship, the first example that comes to mind might be someone raising their hands in a church or campus ministry service. Maybe it is even somebody kneeling in prayer. But it can also be forms of serving, tithing, or even managing your time well in school. It can be all of these things, but worship’s significance in your life carries more weight than most anything else in a relationship with God other than prayer. Worship becomes significant to God through humility, honesty & vulnerability, and hunger for him.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” - Ephesians 4:1-3
God will honor us when we approach him in a position of humility. Humility is an interesting topic because it is multi-dimensional - it involves a healthy level of awareness, knowledge of how the Holy Spirit moves in our individual lives, and a choice to submit ourselves willingly to God. As we humble ourselves before God, we admit our need for Jesus because of our innately sinful nature. Through that place, we are putting Romans 12:1 into action, offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God.
The reason why God honors us when we present ourselves as sacrifices to God is because he wants to transform us from our former selves, conformed by sin and death, into the image of Christ, which is life and peace. Even though this is difficult, because it requires us doing things that we don’t want to do, such as group projects or tedious homework, God honors that! He loves when we lay down our desires for the sake of being faithful to what he wants to do in and through us.
Honesty & Vulnerability
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” - James 5:15-16
Submitting ourselves to God through humility means that we must be honest and vulnerable with both him and the people in our lives. We live in a society that thrives off the idea of being self-dependent and a self-made man or woman. Oftentimes, American cultural values suggest that the strongest people are the ones who don’t depend on anyone to help us through trying times. However, this isn’t how God calls us to live. We are called to be honest and transparent regarding the sins and struggles we think have stained our self-image.
God loves to bless people who come to the cross, being completely transparent and honest about areas in our lives we may not be proud of. This might be one of the most difficult components of following Jesus, especially with the cultural values of being a self-made person constantly being taught in American culture. However, as students and followers of Christ, admitting our need for a savior shows us that Jesus truly does carry the weight of our temptations and doubts. The process of honest confession is an example of worship because we are willing to allow God to move in us.
Transparency is the best way to live out a life based on Psalm 139:13-14. Acknowledging God created us on purpose and for a reason is so freeing. He created us to be in relationship with him and worship him. Although we have sinned and fallen short of his glory, confessing our sins to both God and other people is one of the best things we can do in order to be transparent and worship our Heavenly Father.
“...but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:31
Before worshipping God through humility and honesty, we must desire to follow and glorify him in his splendor. He is the one who is giving us strength to fight the battles we fight living in a fallen world. Desiring God and his kingdom gives us strength, as we see through Scripture. Sometimes desiring God’s glory for your life means being willing to wait on things you need or want. Through the process of waiting, God is still making himself known to you each day you decide to pursue him.
To hunger for God doesn’t, by any means, require you to deny that there have been hard circumstances in our lives that have caused us to sin. Those areas mean we have pain we must deal with. Acknowledging pain’s weight in our lives pushes us to desire more for Jesus’ grace to be sufficient for us. Even though we may not get the picture of the finished promise the first time we are in the secret place doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t worship. It just means that God acknowledges our pain and wants to bring us comfort. To bring us peace. To bring us hope. To exemplify his love through the cross.
Worshipping God occurs through a number of different scenarios. It serves as a way for us to be a living sacrifice to God, and acknowledge our need for him as our Lord and Savior because of sin and shame. The act of worship allows us to surrender ourselves completely in humility and transparency.
As a closing thought, think of your life as a student and your place in other people’s lives and how you can be completely surrendered and transparent about God’s place in your life. Think of how you already glorify God and also ways that you could improve in worshipping him. And be hungry! God is mysterious but is so kind to respond to a humble, transparent, and hungry heart, especially when surrendering everything about your life in an act of worship through the changes and seasons of your life.
Author | Brad Schiebel