Designed for Worship

Feb 15 / Alanna Glover
I spend an embarrassing amount of time thinking about cooking. It was baking that first hooked me when I was a kid – the endless, delicious things that could be created by the simple act of creaming butter and folding flour. It was like magic. At first it was the sweet stuff, but as I grew into an adult the necessity of putting meals on the table introduced me to the wonders of savoury cooking. Now I can’t help but daydream and plan and sometimes even obsess over the new and interesting creations I can spin with a pan and a spatula. (Unfortunately the effort is all but lost on my happy-with-cheese-on-toast husband and only-eats-white-food three year old – I hold out hope for the baby.)

What is it that you dream about when your mind wanders? If it’s not cooking, is it Netflix? Books? Travel? Gaming? Maybe you’re more of the career-minded type, planning on climbing the corporate ladder. Or maybe you’re just one post away from making it as an influencer on the ‘gram (or Tik-Tok if you’re younger than me).

All of us spend a lot of energy serving and slaving over the things that have captured our attention, the things that have won our hearts – and these are often the things that we worship. Sometimes we worship them openly and publicly, but often they’re things that we don’t admit to others – or even acknowledge to ourselves. They sit in the deepest corners of our hearts, shaping who we really are and what we really stand for. We humans are very good at worshipping. We were designed for worship.

Only we weren’t designed to worship the things God created, however good (or delicious) they may be. We were designed to worship the creator.

The sustainer of the universe and the saviour of our souls is the one who should rightfully captivate our attention and take the highest place in our hearts. Worshipping God is what we were made for and should be the primary purpose of our lives. So what does such worship look like?

What is worship?

We’ll start with this simple definition: worship is the attitude of the heart which honours God above all else. The Bible talks about this worship in two primary ways: worship that is done for us, and worship done by us. How does this work? Firstly, worship is something done by Jesus, on our behalf. The problem created by our sin is that we readily and easily exchange the truth about God for a lie. We worship created things rather than the creator (Rom 1:25) – a problem we can’t fix ourselves. It’s only through the perfect worship of Jesus on our behalf that we can turn and serve the creator. Jesus intercedes for us, making us acceptable to a holy God (Heb 9:24-25). This is the worship Jesus does for us.

At the same time, we have a responsibility to offer worship to our great God. The Bible shows us that in response to the true worship of Jesus, we are to offer up our lives and lips in service of him. In Romans 12:1 we are called to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service”.

By God’s grace we are saved through faith. And just as Israel offered its ritual sacrifices under God’s grace, so now we should offer our own bodies as living sacrifices. This is the right response to being saved. Equally, we are called to offer the fruit of our lips. Hebrews 13:15 commands that “through him [Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” The words that we say ought to bring him glory and praise.

But we don’t just have to speak these words – we can sing them!

We read in Colossians 3:16-17 that "the word of Christ [should] dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col 3:16-17).

Our union with Jesus is expressed in the grateful singing of the church (the fruit of our lips), which in turn shapes our words and deeds (the sacrifice of our lives). We know and experience Christ through the teaching of his word and our songs give voice to the indwelling of his word in our hearts. And when that word is sung, our hearts are changed to respond with gratitude. In our singing, the rich indwelling of Christ reshapes our inner being in order to make us into thankful worshippers.

We know from experience that music has the power to move us and affect us. No doubt you’ve felt the effects of a spine-tingling melody or tear-inducing orchestration? Music is a good gift! But how much more exciting is it to learn that as a tool of the Holy Spirit, music combined with the word of Christ can radically transform our lives?

Singing songs of adoration to God is one of the many ways that we can serve him. But more profoundly, singing his word actually moulds our hearts so we can better live for him. The true worship of Christ, expressed in song, shapes and equips us for a life of adoration and action, for the glory of God and the growth of his church.

All of which means I can still enjoy my time in the kitchen and all the other good gifts God has given me; but thanks to the grace of Jesus I’m transformed into someone who can honour God above the created things. Only ‘in Christ’ am I able to lay down my life and offer the fruit of my lips.

And I thank God for the gift of song as a means by which I can share in the blessing of Christ’s worship done for me. It gives voice to the adoration of my transformed heart and helps me fix my eyes on the things above.

Want to learn more about worship?

Register today for the Disciple Making in Music and Worship LLI Live Webinar!

Mark your calendars for March 2nd (March 3rd Sydney time)!