“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. –Mark 12:30 (NIV)
God wants all of us. He’s not interested in halfhearted commitments, partial obedience, the leftovers of our time & money. Where we worship isn’t as important as how much of ourselves we offer to God when we worship. The kind of worship that pleases God has 4 characteristics:
–God is pleased when our worship is accurate. We can’t just create our own comfortable or politically correct image of God and worship it.
–God is pleased when our worship is authentic. We must “worship in spirit”, where our spirit responds to God’s spirit, it must be genuine & heartfelt. We must mean what we say. We can worship God imperfectly, but we can’t worship Him insincerely. Warren states that real worship happens when our spirit responds to God, not to some song, which hinders worship because it takes the spotlight off God and focuses on our feelings. The best style of worship is the one that most authentically represents our love for God.
Gary Thomas wonders “If God intentionally made us all different, why should everyone be expected to love God in the same way?” In Sacred Pathways, Gary identifies 9 ways people draw near to God:
Naturalists love God out of doors in natural settings; Sensates love Him with their senses & appreciate beautiful worship services that involve sight, taste, smell & touch, not just ears; Traditionalists thru rituals, liturgies, & unchanging structures; Ascetics in solitude & simplicity; Activists love God thru confronting evil, battling injustice, working to make the world a better place; Caregivers by loving others & meeting their needs; Enthusiasts thru celebration; Contemplatives thru adoration; Intellectuals love God thru studying with their minds.
–God is pleased when our worship is thoughtful. He isn’t pleased w/thoughtless singing of hymns or careless exclamations. He wants us to engage our minds. Warren makes 2 suggestions: Be specific in our praise & try praising God w/o using the words praise, hallelujah, thanks or amen. Use fresh words like admire, respect, value, revere, honor, appreciate.
–God is pleased when our worship is practical. When someone says I can’t make it to the meeting tonite but I’m with you in spirit—its meaningless, because as long as you are on Earth, your spirit can only be where your body is. So offer real worship. God is pleased with different sacrifices of worship-thanksgiving, praise, humility, repentance, offerings of money, prayer, serving others, sharing with those in need.
Real worship costs. It costs us our self-centeredness because we deliberately shift the focus off ourselves. Worship takes effort, energy—when you praise Him when you are tired, or when you help others when you are worn out—we are offering a sacrifice of worship to God that pleases Him. Matt Redman tells us how his pastor taught his church the real meaning of worship: To show that worship is more than music, he banned all singing in their services for a period of time while they learned to worship in other ways. Matt learned that the song isn’t what God wants, He wants our heart.
Question to Consider: Which is more pleasing to God right now—my public worship or my private worship? What will I do about this?
* Weekly, sometimes daily, we will be writing about what inspires us from each consecutive chapter of Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. If you read along with us, please share your inspirations. There’s no need to catch up, just jump right in.