Service as Worship
As Christians, we believe that worship is an important part of our Christian lives. We spend time listening to worship music, we attend a worship service on Sundays, and we worship God through our daily prayers. While these are certainly viable means of worshiping God, the truth is they only scratch the surface of true Christian worship, which culminates in Christian service. In Romans 12:1, the apostle Paul urges us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. But what does this mean to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice?” It means engaging in Christian service.
In 1 Peter 4, we find that Christian service involves two things and a third. First, it involves pursuing holiness (v. 1-7), and second, lovingly serving one another with the gifts we have been given— “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (v. 8-10). This means then that Christian worship involves pursuing holiness, using our gifts to serve others, and third, doing so without faking a smile so that, “in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (v. 11). So, the question is, are we doing this? Are we pursuing holiness while using our individual gifts to build others up within Christ’s body? Because if we aren’t, we aren’t truly worshiping God no matter how much we pray, how much Christian music we listen to, or how many worship services we attend. And if we aren’t worshiping God, then the question remains, “what are we worshiping?”
When it comes to worship, we are all worshipers at heart, and we don’t get a choice in the matter. So the question isn’t, “Will I worship,” but, “What will I worship?” Consequently, if we only worship God in the ways we want (prayer, music, or church services), then we may claim to be worshiping God, but the truth is we are simply using those things to worship our true god, which is ourselves. Our prayer time can easily become a pietistic checkbox that makes us feel a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, and the same goes for Christian music, whether individually at home or collectively at church. Our hearts can easily lead us to worship the feeling of worship instead of the God we ought to be delighting in. However, even if we are using our spiritual gifts to serve God we aren’t necessarily in the clear, as this too can be used for false worship. What else do we need then to engage in proper worship? Service with a smile.
The reason service with a smile is vital for true worship, is that it reveals a heart that is satisfied in God, not itself. It reveals a heart that is beating in rhythm with the two great commandments, which are to love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31)—and make no mistake, these two go hand in hand. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). The essence of true Christian worship then is a heart that serves God by serving others. Consequently, even if we have a church full of prayer warriors, talented musicians, and preaching that is biblically sound, we still can fail to be a church that properly worships God if our love of God doesn’t lead us to engage in Christian service. So with this in mind, one question remains: Are you doing Christian service with a smile?