Worship Involves Obedience

Where worshipers are maturing in the worship-way-of-life, the obedient actions prompted by their worship encounters with God are themselves activities of worship. They are in fact what the Hebrew terms sharat and latreuo are describing—that which is often translated as serve and minister or service and ministry.

Worship is much richer than the actions of approaching God—including attending worship services, practicing various religious rituals, even going to God in one’s heart during daily activities. Perhaps the activities of approaching God in worship may constitute worshiping. But so do the actions that involve service or obedience. This is living out the Hebrew (sharat or sheret) and Greek (latreuo) terms which mean to minister, serve, or obey.

When worshipers involve themselves in true approachable worship, God will encounter them, deal with them transactionally, and give them assignments. These assignments are also, in themselves, worship. Obedience and service are worship; not something separate from worship.

The Bible clearly emphasizes that the life of worship is a general way-of-life or a lifestyle. Worship of The Most High is not simply limited to the parts of life focused on exercising religious rituals, or private personal devotions. Yet believers, both modern and ancient, struggle to focus on worship as a general way-of-life. Ancient people clearly moved towards worship expressed through a wide variety of idolatry, spiritism, animism, the occult, and mythology. Modern people drift towards isolating worship to the “religious practices” of their life.

But biblical worship is a repeated encountering and response to the person and work of God. It is in the Gospels where we see the greatest record of the way human life is to be lived with God: The daily life-walk of Jesus, God the Son. Jesus modeled and taught that worship is an inward, Godward heart expression of deepest reverence, admiration, and gratitude to God. It is outwardly manifested through worship-motivated actions of service and obedience. Some might call this “service directed worship.”

The Apostle Paul makes a very important expansion on Jesus’ worship teaching. Paul confirms that worship is more a way-of-living than it is simply the exercise of religious rituals. In Roman 12:1, he emphasizes (using the term latreuo) that it is only logical for believers to present themselves as living sacrifices (of worship) to God. Paul is emphasizing that every activity of a believer’s daily life should flow out of heart-worship. And, that heart-worship will naturally develop into a worship-way-of-life.

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