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Being Christ Church (1): LIFE – Worship

. 4 min read

2014/04/27
Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer,
Psalm 16
Children,
John 21 (the risen Jesus asks for our love/worship)
Message,
Romans 11.33 – 12.21 (especially 12.1-2)
Today
we begin a new series of messages exploring the language we are using to
describe discipleship here at Christ Church, language that is incorporated into
the new and expanded membership vows and covenant. You may have noticed the
tagline, “Friends. Purpose. Life.” in some of our graphics. Those themes
translate into three overlapping spheres for discipleship: Worship (Life),
Community (Friends), and Mission (Purpose). A copy of the membership vows,
including the new questions and description, will be handed out to everyone as
you exit.
Worship.
There is so much we could talk about – and we are only taking one Sunday with
this dimension of our theme! We could talk about the power of praise to shape the world, to accomplish victory, to bring
the new age of resurrection to bear on the old age of death. I love the story
of King Jehoshaphat, who puts the choir at the front of the army as Judah heads
off to battle, and when they arrive at the battleground, their enemies have
killed each other (2 Chronicles 20). We could talk about the imperative of gathering as the
Christian community (which overlaps with next week’s theme). “I can worship
anywhere, alone in the woods”. Good, but that is not adequate for our souls:
“Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews
10.25). We could talk about the so-called “worship
wars”,
which so often boil down to what constitutes “good music” rather
than “bad music”, and end up focused on everything except what matters to the mission
of Jesus and the formation of souls.
But
today we are going to talk about worship as a way of life, with a focus on the
first two verses of Romans 12. Some context: In Romans, Paul has been
describing the story of salvation, how Jews and Gentiles together are united in
a new people of God, and how Jesus in his death and resurrection inaugurates
God’s new age – the resurrection age – in the midst of the old one (Wright).
Chapter 11 closes with worship: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his
ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the
glory forever. Amen” (11.33-36).

And,
chapter 12 opens with worship:
Romans
12:1-2
 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.  2 Do 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.
“Your
spiritual worship”
      leitourgia
(worship, civil service, work of the people)
      logikos
(logical, rational, spiritual – the “worship worthy of thinking beings”,
Jerusalem Bible [Wright])
Worship begins here, but does not end here
Worship is a life of chosen obedience
      Sacrifice – totally given over to God
“The
problem with living sacrifices is that they want to crawl off the altar” (Dick
Woodward).
Do
you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior …
and
promise to serve him as your Lord?
      The Baptismal Covenant
Self-sacrifice
is the path to “self-actualization”, and to pleasing God (Paul). Jesus: “Take
up your cross, deny yourself, and follow me” (Matthew 16.24). So often today,
we think the path to self-actualization is through pleasure,
relationships-family, or work-success. Over and over, in practical experience,
these paths fall through. Only a life given over completely to Jesus is, in
Jesus’ words, “life to the full” (John 10.10, NIV)
Worship is a life of a fresh thinking
“With
all the ambiguities and perplexities of Christian moral life, there is such a
thing as knowing and doing God’s will, and we are commanded to pursue it”
(Wright, 706).
      “You may discern what is the will of God –
what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.2)
      Two processes: Sacrifice (giving up the
self), Renewed Mind. Prayer & Scripture
      Changing the way we think
      Enemies – doing their best?      
            God’s tool for my holiness?
      Those we love, whose approval we desire
            Immobilized?
            The only one I must please is Jesus
            The only one who satisfies me is
Jesus
      Our appearance and self-image
Psalm
139:13-14
 you knit me together in my
mother’s womb.  14 I praise
you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I
know very well.
Worship is a life of genuine love
“Let
love be genuine…. Love one another with mutual affection” (Ro 12.9-10).
Practical dimensions in the Christian community – humility, peace, teamwork,
generosity, hospitality …
      Jesus with Peter, John 21
Worship begins here, but it does not end
here.
      Life of chosen obedience
      Life of fresh thinking
      Life of genuine love
“O
the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are
his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! … For from him and through him and
to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (11.33-36).
Resources:

N.
T. Wright. 2002. Romans in The New
Interpreter’s Bible, Vol X.
Nashville: Abingdon Press.