The Ultimate Act of Worship – Obedience [Updated Edition]
Last Year, I had the honor of writing an article for Ryan Egan’s website. The Title of the article was “The Ultimate Act of Worship – Obedience.” Little over a year has gone by and I am still thinking on this topic. So, I am going to update and expand this. Bear with me. If you read it a year ago, some of this will be a repost of my previous thoughts, but if you follow me down this trail, I think you will be blessed.
This whole thought process started with a verse.
“Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”
1st Samuel 15:22
Obedience Requires Discipline:
Of course I have underlined the appropriate section that has sparked this. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” The word sacrifice was nagging at me. There was something there that kept calling me, and then I began to see it. For the Jews, their worship was formed in the sacrifices they made before the Lord. They were worship practiced given to Moses directly from God.
So when the Bible says this, we could infer; “To Obey is better than worship.” Lets hold that thought for a moment and come back to it.
As Christians we need to live a life of worship. We often equate worship with songs and music. When we do this, we miss the most important act of worship. We are willing to worship God as long as it doesn’t require work. Singing is simple: practically everyone does it whether it is public or simply while in the shower, but obedience is work. Obedience requires discipline.
The central theme of our Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus. In his time of prayer before the whole saga began he said in Matthew 26:39,
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
This selfless act of service is the ultimate act of worship. Most people think of the cross as a great act of worship and it was, but the purpose of the cross was not worship. The purpose of the cross was redemption.
The real act of worship was found in this simple phrase. “…Not as I, but as You Will.” Right here, Jesus was worshiping His Father by submitting Himself and Obeying the will of the Father. Obedience is the highest form of worship. In the Gospel of John, we see a paradigm emerge.
“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.'”
Obedience Requires Love:
Jesus told us, He couldn’t do anything by Himself. He waited till had caught the vision of God’s will. Then He simply did what God had revealed to him. This is obedience. Further on in John’s gospel Jesus passes obedience down to us.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
If we love, we will obey. Sounds pretty honest to me. But, Jesus asked us to keep His commandments, what are His commandments? Well, Jesus was being tested on his doctrine by the Pharisee’s when they asked him ”What is the Greatest Commandment” He responded to them, “Hear Israel, The Lord your God is one God and you shall love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Then he shared the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This encounter can be found in Matthew 22:35–40, Mark 12:28–34, and Luke 10:25–28.
Jesus didn’t say the greatest commandment was to make sacrifices, sing songs, or even Go to the temple. He said that the greatest commandment was to LOVE GOD. Then commandment #2; LOVE OTHERS. The sacrifices are tertiary at best. Now this is not to say that Worship or Sacrifices are bad, and should be avoided. But God has said Obedience trumps worship and sacrifices.
We can sing all the songs we want but if we aren’t able to follow these two commandments we are missing the point of obedience as an act of worship. Now, I know there are more commandments than simply these, but we have trouble with these. If this is true, then we should be more concerned with Obeying the commandments of our saviour. We should be loving God and Loving others. Well, John has some thoughts on Loving God. In the 1st Epistle of John, he has a discussion about love and say that if we do not love our Brother , how can we love God?
John, who I might add is the Disciple who Jesus Loved, tells us if We fail at comandment #2, how is it possible for us to pass commandment #1.
Obedience is Service:
This is harsh. obedience just got kicked up a notch. Jesus linked the first two commandments, but here, John almost makes them part A and part B. Now, lets add to that a little insight from Jesus’ own brother James.
“True religion is to love and serve the widows and orphans.”
James points out that true religion requires us to serve widows and orphans. Which I expand to mean help those who have needs that they cannot handle. A widow didn’t choose to be a widow, nor would any ever choose the life of an orphan. We who are blessed by our God have an ability to help them out.
Reading over the article I wrote last year one line stood out to me;
“Obedience is the key to worship. If we can learn to be obedient with our lives all other forms of worship will be increased.”
I do not know why but this just struck a chord in me. I do not even remember writing it, but it is very true. I find my passion rises as I serve others. As a missionary I am all over the world worshiping with people, but at the same time, I am working with them and serving them. As I serve, and pour my life out in obedience to God, I find the songs I sing, and my musical worship, gains more passion.
True worship is actively intertwined with justice. We as worshipers need to be not only musicians, but obedient servants
Please share practical examples of how we can be servants and worship leaders. If you know someone who is living this out, tell their story. I hope you have enjoyed this expanded edition. I hope it has spoken to your spirit and awakened a heart of a servant inside of you.
If you want to read the original post -click here-