Did you ever stop to consider what worship is? In the simplest of terms, most of us would think of worship as something we do, rather than as something we set into action or motion in our lives. Let me explain – when we truly live a lifestyle of “worship”, we are setting things in motion in our lives - our lives take on the meaning for which they were designed. Most would agree, the best purpose for a created object is to be used as it was designed! For many, worship is associated with song and quiet moments. For me, worship is a lifestyle - for every word, action, and thought has the potential of being worship! Worship involves the heart, mind, and soul - it is all-encompassing. In fact, scripture compares worship to love.
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! (Deuteronomy 6:5 MSG)
In the truest sense, worship defines who is in control - it answers the question about "ownership". For example, when I actually own something as my own, there is a certain amount of attention I give to it. If it is my car, I fill the tank with gas regularly, add washer fluid to the reservoir, and ensure the oil is regularly changed. Why? I own it and therefore, I maintain it. Now, if God owns our hearts, who do you think should maintain our hearts? Trust me, it is is not us! We don't do a very good job with that whole deal! In fact, we often neglect some of the most important "maintenance" opportunities where it comes to our heart (mind/will/emotions).
In our passage, Moses acts as the scribe for these words - God having spoken to him and now he speaks to the people of Israel. Love God - love not just God as the creator of the universe, the all-powerful one, but YOUR God. He is a God of relationship - we only maintain relationship through contact. When Moses shares these instructions, he is reminding us of the importance of maintaining all elements of relationship with God. That means we need to be consistent in it - not just on Sundays, but as a lifestyle. If I only focused on the maintenance of my car whenever its warning lights signaled the need, I'd end up abusing my car! If we only spend time "in worship" on a day of the week, we are abusing our relationship with God!
Worship actually helps us sort out the stuff which matters most. When we direct our attention toward the one who created us, we are allowing him to help us "sort" the many priorities in life which we assign "value" to. For example, I may think my day should be ordered a certain way, with a full laundry list of tasks to complete, places to go, etc. When I begin my day "in relationship" with the one who actually helps me see the value-added in the things I prioritize, my list may actually get a little smaller! God has a way of clarifying the stuff we should place value in - rather than the fickleness of our hearts determining that for us!
The most important truth Moses was teaching: Worship requires sacrifice. All that's in you requires a certain element of sacrifice. To lay down my priorities in order to have God "re-order" them is a sacrifice - I am admitting I don't want (or need) to be in total control. Laying my priorities on the altar is only one way I worship God - how about you? In terms of sacrifice, we often think it has to "cost" us something - like when Israel would bring the best of their crops or herds to be offered up on the altar. Probably the toughest part of worship is the surrendering of our priorities to God. He asks to be first, then he sets everything else into right order. It is not rocket science - when our relationship with him matters the most, every other relationship will benefit from this "correct prioritization".
Most of the time, we get worship confused with getting something FROM God rather than yielding something TO God. As we yield to God, we set things in motion within our mind, will and emotions which otherwise would not be in motion. It is this motion which moves us out of complacency, toward right action, and into places of order and rest. Worship is a choice - it is a lifestyle. Today's right choices determines tomorrow's direction. Tomorrow's direction defines the character we will develop in the journey. Just sayin!