It has grown churches by the thousands and split churches just as fast. It has helped and healed people of all makes and models. It has hurt and shunned people of all different makes, and models. It can bring people together and drive them apart.
It’s purpose is obvious yet too often goes unseen or taken for granted. It’s power is unmatched yet, too often untouched. It’s place is everywhere yet too often unrecognized, therefore presumed nowhere.
You know it when you experience it but too often you aren’t awake or aware enough to even notice it.
What am I talking about? I am talking about worship. Worship - the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity; the act(s) that make up a formal expression of reverence.
How is your reverence workout routine going these days? Are you working your reverence and adoration on a regular basis? What do you find most helpful? Most challenging?
Like any other physical fitness regime, if your cardio isn’t up to par, all the weights, strength training, and yoga bending won’t get your through the long haul. You need endurance. You need to build your stamina. In the physical fitness world that means cardio training - getting the heart rate up, working it, letting it recover, and doing it again. Building your lung capacity and muscle endurance. In the spiritual fitness world, your cardio is your worship and if your worship is lacking your spiritual life is lacking.
Worship is the core of spiritual fitness. It is the beginning and the end of all the rest and impacts everything in between. The purpose of worship is both simple and complex, and while we need not overthink or over analyse it. We DO need to understand, pay attention to, and trust the purpose, power, and place of worship in our lives as individual followers, as a gathered and intentional community of believers, and as a people of a much bigger movement.
In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul is reminding the followers of Jesus to keep the main thing the main thing. He instructs them on how to stay connected and committed to Jesus, the church and one another. This is done through worship.
Worship is both a pouring out and a filling up and it takes both for it to truly shape our lives into more of what God wants them to be. It is cyclical in that we come and worship in order to show God our reverence and adoration while at the same time in the showing, in the pouring out, we are filled back up with what we need to keep on keeping on. And somewhere in all that is the holy mystery that connects us to each other and followers around the world.
And like any fitness program or healthy lifestyle, we can’t expect to practice only once a week or twice a month and call it good. That’s not enough to develop strong spiritual fitness habits. Practice makes perfect - in the spiritual just as much as the physical. In this case, it is not “you are what you eat.” It is “you are what and who you worship.”
Paul is reminding the church to pay attention to and never underestimate the power of worship. Because the power is not contained in the four walls of this gymnasium of the soul, i.e., the church. The power is not limited to pastors, musicians, praise teams, sunday school teachers, bell ringers, organ players, or the good prayers.
The power of worship flows in and through you by the power of the Holy Spirit. The power to change someone’s bad day at work or at school. The power to give hope to someone overwhelmed by life. The power to keep us humble and mindful of others. The power to build up rather than tear down. The power to be a part of God’s unfolding plan.
Everything has its place and there is a place for everything. Worship is no different. Worship has its place too. Where? The obvious answer is right here - in the church, in this room called the sanctuary (although I kind of like gymnasium of the soul).
For a spiritually fit follower of Jesus, the place of worship is not only in the church. The place of worship is in God’s created world and within you - within each one of us and therefore the place of worship is everywhere - all times all places. The place of worship is a state of mind and heart. So whether you are inside or outside these walls, you are in a place of worship. Whether you are on your bike or swinging a golf club, you are in a place of worship. Whether you are by the campfire or in the coffee shop, you are in a place of worship. That being said, hear what I am not saying. I am NOT saying you can worship just as well on the golf course, soccer field, or baseball diamond as you can in the church. I am NOT saying you can worship just as well at home in your jammies, or on the road as you can in actual church. I am saying, worship must take priority and be worked on in your heart and in your mind.
I pray for the day, we as followers of Jesus, will say not only is there a place for everything but a place for everyone and everyone has a place...that place is worship.
May it be so.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine