I don’t love crowds. I don’t love traffic. Large groups of people generally make me nervous, but I have to admit when we start singing “Sweet Caroline,” or when we wave to the kids in the hospital, there’s something special about being with like-minded people to cheer on what we love. Whether it’s Hawkeye football (or Arizona State, if you’re my husband, Jake), Iowa State basketball, fireworks on the 4th of July, or a James Taylor concert - it’s one thing to watch it on TV, and it’s another thing to be together with a group of people who love and cheer on the same thing you do.
Every Sunday we come together to cheer on what we love. And it’s far better than watching a service online. The reason we come together on Sundays is to express our love for God, and that is what we call worship. I get the privilege of being on stage on many Sundays and I get to hear all of you sing, which is one way we worship. And boy, do you all sing! We not only express our individual love for God when we sing, we do it together, and in doing so, we encourage each other to love him, know him, worship him, and follow him all the more.
But Sundays aren’t the only time we express our love for God. It’s not the only time we worship. Worship is not just about singing, prayer, and serving in kids’ ministry. Worship is not just something we do. It’s who we are. Disciples of Jesus are worshipers. It’s an identity. It’s a way of life. Followers of Jesus are people who are defined by God being the greatest and most valuable treasure in their lives. We are not only everyday missionaries, we are everyday worshipers.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. Eating and drinking are two of the most practical activities we do every day. And it can be worship! It can express our love for God and give him glory! As a stay-at-home mom, this gives me so much hope and purpose. I spend a lot of time scraping eggs off of frying pans, making meal plans, cleaning toilets, and lining up shoes by the door. Sometimes I get discouraged when I feel like I’m not really doing anything of value. I see the women who work at churches, teach at school, and take care of the sick in hospitals as doing the really important work, and I’m just doing the meaningless and thankless jobs at home. So how do we turn seemingly meaningless and boring jobs, our everyday lives, into worship?
Enjoy him: David writes in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore”. I used to detassel corn as a teenager. I didn’t ride on a trailer. I walked through the rows and picked those tassels by hand. It was a terrible job that gave me cuts all the way up and down my arms. But do you know what made it better? No, not just the paycheck. My family. My family sings when we work. We play games. We have competitions. Walking those long rows of corn beside the people I loved made me enjoy detasseling. Today, I have great memories of those hot summer days. Do you know what makes scrubbing toilets and folding clothes a whole lot better? Do you know what makes teaching a bunch of fifth graders a whole lot better? Do you know what makes changing diapers a whole lot better? Do you know what makes dealing with angry customers and difficult co-workers a whole lot better? Doing it beside the one we love the most. Being in God’s presence. Having hearts that are close to God and enjoy God is worship!
Treasure Him: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” - Matthew 6:19-21. Most of us would say we treasure God above all things, but he takes second or third place in our checkbooks, on our calendars, and in our thoughts and plans. We are often just like the Pharisees when Jesus throws the prophet Isaiah at them: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” - Matthew 15:8. What do we actually treasure? Being an everyday worshiper is an everyday battle. Every morning when my alarm rings, the battle begins. Do I treasure my time with God in his word, or do I treasure my sleep? When I get the schedule for my daughter’s basketball tournaments, we have to ask ourselves, do we treasure our daughter being a great basketball player and pleasing her coach and team, or do we treasure her learning about God and worshiping him corporately? When I’m in the middle of a Netflix show, and suddenly there is a scene I know I shouldn’t be watching, I have to ask myself if I treasure my own pleasure and desires to watch a show, or do I treasure the holiness of God and his desires for me? Treasuring God is worship. And we have the opportunity to treasure him with every decision we make. Not just on Sundays, but every minute of every day.
Die Daily for Him: “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. My Aunt Becky and Uncle Randy are some of the wisest people I know, and they have four grown daughters who love Jesus. I asked them once what they thought was the most important lesson to teach kids. They responded, “To deny themselves.” Isn’t that the greatest love there is? To deny your own wants and needs for the benefit of others, even if it means death? Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? He denied himself, submitted himself to the Father’s will, and died on a cross. I have to be honest, I'm not always pleased with the roles God has given me. My role as a mother, my role as a pastor’s wife, my role as a woman. In each and every role I’ve been given, I’m called by God to lay down my own desires, wants, and needs, and serve others. Isn’t it interesting that in Ephesians 5, right after several verses about worshiping, singing, and giving thanks, Paul tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ and continues to address wives, husbands, children, servants, and masters? Accepting the roles God has given to us and submitting to those roles is worship! Children obeying their parents is worship! Wives submitting to their husbands and respecting them is worship! A husband loving his wife and giving himself up for her is worship! A worker who works not for his boss but for the Lord is worship! And a boss who treats his workers kindly and fairly is worship! Dying to ourselves and becoming a living and walking sacrifice for God makes us everyday worshipers.
Let’s be honest. Being an everyday worshiper of our great God is tough. It’s not natural for our sinful and selfish selves. That’s why God didn’t intend for us to be everyday worshipers by ourselves. We are to walk alongside each other, meet regularly together, sing together, admonish one another, encourage one another, eat together, break bread together, pray together, confess to one another, care for one another, and love one another. I love you guys–my “one anothers”. I’m so glad God has given us each other. I love to hear you sing. I love to hear you worship AND I love to see you live lives of worship! Not just on Sundays. It’s not something we just do. It’s who we are and who God has made us to be—everyday worshipers who enjoy God, treasure him, and die daily for him. Because our God is worth it. He is our treasure and greatest prize. And we love him.