God must remain the object of our worship
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man,” Eccles. 12:13b (NIV).
The conclusion of Ecclesiastes, a book written by the aging King Solomon, states that the above verse is our whole duty – worship (fearing God).
Yet, this cannot be said of most American Christians. Sorry, don’t mean to point fingers – and I certainly don’t mean to come off as negative – but it is true. Pastor Randall Lolley recently gave us the triumvirate of the 21st century American worship experience:
We worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship.
Ouch . . .
Let’s break this down together and look at where we stand as true worshippers of our mighty, mighty Jehovah.
“The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep,” Eccl 5:12 (KJV).
The Japanese term karoshi simply means death from overwork. Their Prime Minister, Keizo Obuchi passed away in 2000 from . . . you guessed it, karoshi.
In new relationships introductions are made, then followed by job titles. For instance: “This is John Francis; he works at the Baptist Building.” This is a very common introduction that I know must strike a chord with you as well. Imagine being introduced instead like this: “This is John Francis; he has been married for 20 years and has two teenage children.” Or even more telling: “This is John Francis; he is a passionate worshipper of Jesus.” This doesn’t happen very often. In fact, I imagine that the worship of work causes huge identity problems for those who choose not to work outside the home. Many times, the lack of a work title causes momentary lapses of self-worth people. I have seen people scramble to come up with a title in an introduction to simply vie for an even playing field on which to converse and relate.
I have spent many times counseling men and women who have placed their work in front of everything, and suffered. I must deal with overemphasizing my work personally, too. However, I have never counseled anyone to spend less time worshipping Jesus. It seems when we make Him our priority, everything else seems to fall in place.
“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!’” Gen. 25:29-30 (ESV).
Esau was a “man’s man.” I have often wondered about him in reading through the story of Jacob and Esau. I always found myself liking Esau better than Jacob. But we see in his life that he was known as being passionate about one thing, hunting (vs. 27, same chapter). Now, I understand that it could be said of him that they lived off of what he hunted – but that simply wasn’t true. Isaac had so many flocks and herds that the entire Philistine nation envied him (Genesis 26:14). So Esau worked at his play and did so with such great veracity that he brought himself to the brink of starvation and so “despised” his birthright.
This past Super-bowl Sunday, Americans ate 11 million pounds of potato chips. Super Bowl Sunday ranks 3rd highest in grocery sales behind Christmas and Thanksgiving – I don’t know of the sales of ‘red stew,’ but suffice it to say, we do work hard at our play.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship,” Romans 12:1 (ESV).
Now we come down to it. With talk of worship styles and weighing our feelings, when it comes to worship, we forget Who is to be worshipped. We’ve all heard comments like “our congregation is totally sold out to contemporary/traditional worship.” The important question in either case is: “Are they wholeheartedly sold out to the worship of an Almighty God?” Our worship can so easily become play to us – where we desire a feeling, an experience, or merely to be “current” in our experience. To fight this as worshippers, we must constantly renew and refocus. Allow Jesus to be the focal point of our passionate, emotional experience.
Worship often, worship well, worship HIM. (John Francis is the Worship Specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and produces MoWorship, a monthly worship podcast available at www.mobaptist.org/worship.)