Sermon Series: The Way of the Disciple
1. Introduction: Worship
As I talked several times before, the main mission of the church is “to make the disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” For accomplishing of this main mission, what we should focus on as the Body of Christ is disciple-making. Certainly other missions, such as feeding the hungry, liberating the oppressed, and healing the sick, are important and valuable. However, compared to this main mission, they are secondary. If so, what we should ask ourselves in earnest is the following question: how can we be the real disciples of Jesus Christ? If disciple-making is the fundamental purpose of the church, we need the tangible direction and standard to be disciples. Fortunately, we can find this tangible direction and standard from the Bible, especially through the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ. There are a lot of detailed teachings about following the way of Jesus, but we can pick up five the most important elements of the way to be disciples, which repeatedly appear throughout the Bible. The main reason why I started this sermon series, ‘The Way of the Disciple’ is to present these five directions for being disciples of Jesus Christ. Today, I will talk about one of them. That is worship.
Worship is the central element for being disciples of Jesus Christ. We can find the importance of worship very easily when we think about our church life. What is the center of all activities of the church? Yes, that is the worship service. In fact, all of the church plans are made around the worship service. Also, the main reason why we gather together weekly is to worship God together. Other activities are important, but compared to worship services, they are secondary. However, in spite of the importance of the worship and the frequency of the worship service, we do not ask the fundamental question about the worship: “what is the worship?”, “what is the right way to worship God?” Due to our familiarity of the worship, we join the worship service without recognizing or asking the real meaning of the worship. From time to time, we just join the worship service according to our habit without thinking about it. This attitude causes a lot of misunderstanding of the worship and interrupts the way to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Thus, today, we will explore together the real meaning of the worship.
2. Worship is a lifestyle.
Worship is multifaceted. If we explore the meaning of the worship, we can find countless meanings and characteristics of the worship. In fact, with this theme, I could make another 6-week sermon series. Also, if you google it, you can easily find the countless thick books about this topic. So, instead of enumerating all meanings or characteristics of worship, I will talk about two fundamental characteristics of the worship, which many Christians miss so that they make a lot of troubles in their spiritual journey nowadays. Even these two characteristics take a lot of time to explain in a sermon. Thus, I will focus on the first characteristics of worship today and the second one will explain next Sunday. The first fundamental characteristic of worship is this: “worship is a lifestyle.”
One of the big misunderstandings of worship is this: worship is a worship service. Many Christians understand that worship happens once a week in a church, especially on Sundays. That Sunday worship is worship for them. Then they seemed to say to God before leaving the church. “Hey, God, I had a wonderful time with you. It was the great music, great sermon, and great ritual. I got a lot of things out of it. However, God, do not follow me. I have my life. I have a lot of things to do. Do not feel bad about this. I will come back next Sunday. See you then.” If you understand worship in this way, you cannot be disciples of Jesus Christ, but just be churchgoers. Worship should be our lifestyle. We need to worship God in every moment of our life, not in a certain time and certain place.
In my previous sermon, I said that the main reason why we are created on earth is to love God and to be loved by God. That is why Jesus says that the most important law is the following.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. “ – Luke 10:27 –
If loving God is the main purpose of our existence, how can we express our love to God? We need praise God, thank God, talk with God, and think about God. These expressions are the worship. These worships should be done not only in our worship service in the church, but also in our daily life without ceasing. Apostle Paul emphasizes this lifestyle worship by saying:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 –
Whatever we do, we should do things for the glory of God. All our activities in our life should be worship for God. You might be confused. How on earth do we worship God all the time, in every moment of our life? In fact, the Bible teaches us various ways to worship in our daily life. However, I present today a few things. One of ways is to think about God. In our daily life, we encounter with the countless moments we choose something from small to big. Before whatever you choose to do something, ask this simple question to you: what would Jesus do in this situation? It sounds like cliché, but it is really helpful for worshipping God in our lives.
The second way to worship God in our daily lives is to pray constantly. Some people might think that prayer should be done a certain place with a certain posture. No. There is no right place or right posture for prayer. Certainly, certain place or posture would be helpful for our prayer life. However, the more important thing is to talking with God without ceasing. That is why Apostle Paul encourages all believers to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonian 5:17. Whenever you find some time to pray, such as in a commuting car, in a living room, or in a working place, pray. That is the one of the best ways to worship God.
The last one is to consider others who you encounter in your daily life as Jesus. In our daily lives, we constantly encounter with some people. That would be a clerk in a grocery store, a server in a restaurant, a delivery person, your family members, neighbors, or church members. Whoever you meet in your life, consider them as Jesus, and treat them as you treat Jesus. The Bible says this in this way.
“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.” – Colossians 3:17
As I said above, if you think about God constantly, pray to God ceaselessly, and consider others as Jesus all the time, we can worship God in our daily lives as God has intended for us. In a phrase, I can summarize this lifestyle worship. That is, “falling in love with God.” Around 15 years ago, when I had dated with my wife, I cannot but thinking about my wife all the time. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I kept thinking about her. Whenever I talked with my friends, I unconsciously kept talking about my wife, how beautiful, how smart, and how sweat she was until they forced me to stop. Whenever I have a little time, even one or two minutes, I called her without hesitations. It did not matter what we were talking about. Hearing her voice is the enough reason to call her. In this way, I talked her on the phone at least an hour a day. The relationship with her affects my view on the world dramatically. Everything around me looks beautiful and perfect. Was I crazy? No, I simply fell in love with her. That was what happened. The lifestyle worship is the same thing. The reason why we keep thinking about God, talking about God, and looking the world in a total different perspective is that we fall in love with God. If you want to be disciple of Jesus Christ who worships God in every moment of our lives, fall in love with God. Falling in love with God is worship.
Whenever I talk about worship as a lifestyle, I found the other misunderstanding of worship. Some church members said to me that they did not have to join the worship service every Sunday because they thought they could worship God in other places while they watch packers game and join the hunting. My answer to these people would no. They did not see the deep relationship between lifestyle worship and the worship service. Certainly, the ultimate goal about worship is to worship God wherever we go whatever we do. For this goal, the worship service is essential. Since human beings are very limited and the world keeps interrupting the relationship between God and human beings, we need to time to refocus our attention to God. That time is the weekly worship service. Without joining the worship service weekly and regularly, it is very hard for human being to worship God through our lives. That is why our spiritual ancestors, even Jesus gathered together at least once a week and worship God communally. Thus, I expect that all Christians, especially church members, join the worship service once a week. I know there should be the time you need to go to other regions for your vacation, or visitation to your family members. In this case, I expect you joined the church near to where you are. If you cannot find the church near you, I expect you have even family or personal worship service. The reason why I emphasize the worship service is that weekly worship service is essential for your lifestyle worship.
I hope our church members realize that what God wants us to do is not weekly worship, but our own life worship. At the same time, I hope all of us to see the importance of our weekly worship for our life worship. I will finish the sermon by reading today’s passage one more time, which shows what kind of worship we should give to God.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2