Right off, take note that I hate the title of this blog post. The thing is, back in the early 90’s in the charismatic movement we were all about worship conferences. And I think every worship conference had a session or workshop titled “Worship as a Lifestyle.” We had all realized that “worship” is not just the singing of songs (with guitars and drums, of course) on Sunday mornings. Worship had to be something that could affect one’s entire life, something one could live out day-to-day. Problem was, it never sunk in that way. The presentations were often incomplete or unconvincing… or sometimes just that in a context where all the other seminars were about songwriting or musicianship or some facet of worship leading, the one workshop for which one didn’t need to be able to sing tended to look like the add-on bit that the organizers threw in for the people who weren’t really worshippers, they just came with their spouses or something. Worship really has very little if anything to do with singing or playing guitar, but we never have portrayed that belief very well. We believe that worship isn’t singing, but when it comes down to it, we can sometimes find ourselves hard-pressed to define worship.
I blame the resurgence of these thoughts on this post at GG’s Probes. Back in the day, I mused on the subject of worship as a lifestyle until something finally took shape for me, something that I can not only live with as an explanation, but something I find actually beautiful. Something that makes me want to “waste” my life laying up treasure in heaven. Bear with me on a figurative journey and I will explain what it means to live a life of worship.
In passages like 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and Matthew 6:1-4 we find that there exists an eternal reward for us in Heaven based on our deeds, how we live our lives, how we practice religion. This is of course not a question of whether or not we earn passage into Heaven (there’s no “earning” involved), but of what our works will amount to once we’re there. These works, the ones done in secret or with God at the centre are equated with gold, silver, and precious stones. In our conceptual traditions, we have come to speak of these rewards as “jewels in our crowns,” the crown being the “crown of life” (e.g., James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10).
We are encouraged in this vein to live our lives relating to those around us in such a way that our deeds are of eternal value, such that they will adorn our brow in eternity. (Remember, we’re on a figurative journey here.) Naturally since we all know “you can’t take it with you”, all we have in eternity is whatever we manage to store up as treasure in heaven. Note this is a whole Sermon on the Mount thing so far. Live your life that way and you will have a reward in heaven to show for it. In heaven, this reward, these gemstones, are all you have to show for your whole life, the life which while you were living it was temporal, time mattered, and you spent it on heavenly things in such a manner as to obtain a heavenly treasure. In heaven, though it is not temporally-bound, that means something.
Now consider the scene in Revelation 4. A time will come some day when we behold this scene for ourselves. We’ll be there with the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, and the cry of “Holy, holy, holy” will be hanging in the air… and we will see the twenty-four elders remove their crowns and cast them at the foot of the throne, because he alone is worthy….
Then we will take our crowns and remove them. We will examine them and say to ourselves, “This represents my entire life, every earthly thing I ever did that is of any value whatsoever is here, in this crown. Through all the years of pain and turmoil and striving, the good and the bad, everything that’s of worth in the life I’ve lived is here. It is my eternal reward, it’s all I have, the only thing of value in heaven.” And we’ll look at it and say to Him who sits on the throne, “Everything I did to receive this reward, I did for you it’s not about the reward at all, I don’t even want it, it was all for you. I don’t need this, and it isn’t even fitting for me to have it. It’s all for you. It was always you.” And we’ll take it and cast it at the foot of the throne.
And that, my friends, is worship.