Famed radio announcer Ted Malone hosted an early-morning radio show. One day he received a note that had been written by a sheepherder in Idaho. The note said, “Will you, on your broadcast, strike the note ‘A’? I’m a sheepherder way out here on a ranch, far away from a piano. The only comfort I have is my old violin. It’s all out of tune. Would you strike ‘A’ so that I might get in tune?” Malone honored the request and later received a “thank you” note from that sheepherder. The note said, “Now I’m in tune.”
Do you know what it is that keeps you in tune with God? It is something called worship. True worship is not playing church. It is not going through the formal motions of religion. It is not praying a “canned” prayer that is filled with old clichés and worn-out lines. It is not begrudgingly dropping a few bucks into an offering plate. It is not enduring a sermon while you think about what you are going to do after church. It is not listening to a choir special or a solo and picking apart the quality of the singing or the playing. It is not robotically mouthing the words to a hymn while you inwardly yawn. It is not reading your Bible with one eye on the page and the other eye on the television, the cell phone, or the computer screen. It is not resisting the temptation to commit some sin simply because you are afraid that you will get caught if you commit it. Actually, true worship is both an act and a lifestyle.
An act of worship is an singular deed that ascribes praise, honor, and obedience to God. It is church done in the right way. It is a prayer prayed the way a prayer should be prayed. It is cheerfully making a monetary contribution to the Lord’s earthly work. It is mentally interacting with a sermon in a manner that allows you to hear God speaking through the text and the preacher. It is doing the same with a choir special or a solo. It is singing a hymn from the heart, focusing especially on the words you are singing, and not worrying about how you sound doing it. It is reading your Bible with a attentive focus worthy of reading the written word of God. It is resisting the temptation to commit a sin, not because you fear getting caught but because you don’t want to disappoint God.
On the other hand, true worship is also a lifestyle. As someone has said, it is going where God says go, being what God says be, doing what God says do, and giving what God says give. It is to serve God by means of whatever you happen to be doing at any given time. In this way, you turn everything you do — even those acts that we don’t normally think of as worship — into a spiritual exercise.
This lifestyle of worship is what Paul had in mind when he said, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). Paul’s words remind me of that old illustration about the woman who had a little sign that hung on the wall in front of the sink in which she washed her dishes. The sign read: “Divine service rendered here three times a day.” Going back to my opening illustration about that sheepherder, to live out such a lifestyle is to bring your entire life into tune with God’s key.
It has often been noted that the term “worship” is akin to the term “worth-ship.” To worship someone or something is to see that person or that thing as being “worthy.” I especially like the idea that to worship is to classify that person or thing as being “worth it” to the ultimate degree.
Christian, it should be your life’s pursuit to see God as being “worth it” in regards to giving Him your obedience, your devotion, your passion, your time, your energy, your talents, etc. Just start right where you are by performing a singular act of worship to Him, and then keep stringing those singular acts together until you have developed a lifestyle of worship. According to Jesus, God is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). I guess the only question, then, that is left to be asked is, “Will you and I be such people?”