What Is Worship?
Is “worship” more than singing and praying on Sunday mornings? According to Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven® Life, it encompasses everything we do that’s aligned with what God wants us to do. I think Rev. Warren is correct, though practically, I often think of worship as what happens for about an hour on Sunday morning.
Along comes Mark Labberton with his 2007 book, The Dangerous Act of Worship–subtitled “Living God’s Call to Justice”–as a corrective to my thinking. Rev. Labberton points out that if we worship God, if we say we live our lives according to his will, then our values must be aligned with his. And that means paying more attention to justice–social justice, not just criminal justice–than many of us (myself included) tend to.
What would that look like? Here are some things that come to mind for me; I don’t know what it might be for you.
- Feeding the hungry and healing the sick as in Matthew 25:31-46: when I see someone begging for food or money on the street (at a traffic signal for example), should I be prepared to give them something? Not money, but some ready-to-eat nourishment?
- Do justice, as Amos 5:23-24 or Micah 6:8; does this mean I should donate “extra” money to International Justice Mission (I’m not a lawyer myself) or other organizations, rather than spending it on luxuries?
Well, it’s about at this point where mutterings are heard from the congregation: “The preacher’s left off preachin’ and gone clear into meddlin’.”
But I think part of Rev. Labberton’s point is that worship should change our lives; it’s not just an activity that we indulge in every now and then.
[G]et rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.from James 1:21-24