Over the generations the way God’s people have worshipped Him has changed. Reading the Word of God, prayer, singing, playing instruments, partaking in the morning and evening sacrifices, were typical expressions of adoration and requests for forgiveness directed toward a mighty God. Throughout those many years of worship the rituals adjusted slightly but it was all pointed toward Yahweh. When Jesus died on the cross it was not only a game changer for our salvation but it sparked a huge shift in how we express our worship……or did it? Did all sacrificial worship end with Jesus?
“Worship is our response to the joy of that salvation.”
Yes, Jesus died for our salvation and that salvation begins and ends with Him. Worship is our response to the joy of that salvation. Jesus would be the final sacrifice for the atonement of sins. From now on God would longer require blood to be shed, as the Savior’s shed blood was once and for all. That was true for atonement, for our salvation, but what is now an acceptable offering for worship? We need to start in the Old Testament, which had some over-arching themes. Be fruitful and multiply and the idea of a covenant are a couple of those themes. Another concept came in the form a conditional promise. He proclaimed that if the Israelites obeyed His commands that the promised land would be blessed and protected. God was true to His word to the very end even when He removed His chosen people from that land after generations of worshipping false gods. They had disobeyed so God removed His protection.
The New Testament was different. Acts 2 describes the early church as devoted to teaching, prayer and fellowship. Paul encouraged the early believers in Ephesians 5:19 to “sing praises to one another” about God. With Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice, most would think that the theme/ritual of sacrifice would be eliminated, but then we are halted by verses like Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” Wait, sacrifice isn’t that Jesus’ role? And what are we being asked to do, exactly? In the New Testament, sacrifice is linked to worship again. Jesus asked us to, “Take up your cross.” James 1:2 says, we should “be joyful in our trials”. Paul, once again, requests “to share in the sufferings” of Christ’s death, Romans 8:17. Wow! It seems that not only is sacrifice still an important part of worship, but the “sacrificee” (I know that’s not a word) has moved from the need for an animal to ….us?
Could it be that God, during this church age is asking for passionate worship?
The word, “passion,” is thrown around with such flippancy now days, especially around the month of February. But a deeper look at the word suggests a different emotion. Passion is derived from the word, patior, which means “to suffer.” That is why the death of Jesus is often described as, The Passion of Christ. The word, com-passion, means, to suffer with. Which makes sense, this definition evokes the emotion of coming along side someone in times of struggle or suffering to help them. Could it be that God, during this church age is asking for passionate worship? According to the verse previously mentioned, Romans 12, we are to offer our lives and that is our true worship. It’s a life thing and something we do together on Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday morning. King David, who was a foreshadow to Jesus, said this 1000 years before Jesus was born,
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
A pleasing sacrifice is no longer the death of an animal. This verse speaks to the death of self. The death of a prideful heart as it gives way to humility. The death of our will as it gives way to His. It does not hide behind comfort. It does not hide behind fear. David sacrificed by confessing to God that he knew he was insufficient and that God was all sufficient.
We don’t do any of this to earn salvation, we do it because of salvation.
Passionate worship, is worship that gives something of oneself to Him. That is what He is looking for from the church. It has become acceptable to arrive half way through the worship time on Sunday morning at most churches. It is acceptable in our culture to attend church services whenever it’s convenient. It has also become acceptable to believe that the worship time is just the warm up before the preaching. It is acceptable to our culture, but not to God. Passionate worshippers engage in fellowship with one another and with Him. That’s why Crossings exist, to love God and love people. Confession and growing together in a small groups, being obedient in serving, humbling our selves by investing in worship on Sunday, it all says, “Take my life. Use me to bring glory to your name.” After all, that is what worship is, directing everyone and everything to Him. We don’t do any of this to earn salvation, we do it because of salvation. We serve out of love, we sing because we are in love. That’s passionate worship!