You can not be living a life of worship if you are not in motion. God’s work never stops moving, never stops teaching, and doesn’t have to wait for anything, and neither do you. There is a situation right now in every life where God’s work can be done, his truth can be shared. Worship is the obedience to do that work so that a window would open for the world to see a little piece of God.
All over the scriptures, there are references to this word “worship.” Look up the definition, there are an incredible number of interpretations and even whole commentaries dealing with the question; what is worship?
Many times, a search will come up with what must be the most nebulous verse,
ESV God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Sounds great! What does it mean? Ask any number of religious people and you’ll probably get as many answers. Fortunately there are some other verses that can at least guide our understanding of this passage.
“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.”
There we have it, at least a direction to steer our minds.
Part 1 of 2, to worship in spirit is at least to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. In short, a living sacrifice is one that stays on the altar being offered to God. It wouldn’t be a sacrifice if it was running away. God isn’t going to literally consume us with fire like the sacrifices in the Old Testament, but as a metaphor, the meaning is clear. Be there for God to use. It’s important to see that a sacrifice is not traditionally something that you could get back. It gets consumed, by fire. So we, as living sacrifices, should not consider any other option than the full service of God to be a real sacrifice.
This brings us to part 2, truth.
The meaning of this part of the verse has been so misunderstood that it actually changes wording between translations. It seems to me that to be a sacrifice in truth, you have to get on the altar and stay there, being consumed by the work of God. If you walk away, you were not a true sacrifice.
That last sentence stings a little. Every day, situations arise where I ‘walk off the altar’ and say ‘sorry God, I know what you want, but I don;t see this happening right now.”
BUT, God knew we would be this way, so he gave us another scripture to guide us.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
In short, Worship must be in spirit, as a living sacrifice to God so that we are his to use. We, however, are imperfect and we sometimes walk away. But, God knew this and made a plan before we knew him that we would have the chance to return to the altar and mount up. Worship will always be a journey, a process of walking away and finding redemption. Doing the work of God will bring us to difficult places that we don’t think we can handle. We will get there and sometimes make mistakes, but as we continue anyways, “by the mercies of God” offering ourselves again, we will continually grow until our time is up. If you ever stop making mistakes, you have walked off the altar. Get back on and continue the journey.