The other day we were watching a show on TV with Hadley. At one point in the show Hadley needed to go to the bathroom. She asked us to pause the show. She was so used to watching shows on Netflix that she couldn’t comprehend the fact that we had no control over the TV. Kids today have it so easy. I remember as a kid if my parents asked me to clean my room while my favorite show was on I would slowly back out of the room so as soon as the commercials started I could run down to my room and try to get it cleaned up during the 2 minute break before my show came back on. Now all kids have to do is pause the DVR, clean their room, and when they come back they can pick up right where they left off.
When we ask our kids to do something we don’t just want them to go through the motions, we want them to do it with the right attitude. When we ask them to clean their room we don’t want them to stomp down the hallway and reluctantly clean their room. We want them to want to clean their room. But why would anyone want to clean their room?
As Christians when we are called to serve God doesn’t want us to merely serve out of some sense of obligation or out of some sort of effort to earn His approval.
He wants us to want to serve. We serve as an act of worship.
Most of us are familiar with the famous words in Isaiah as God asks, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” and Isaiah responds “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Isaiah’s response grows out of the events that preceded God’s calling. Isaiah finds himself in the presence of God, fully aware of his own sin, declaring “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips . . . .” when one of the seraphim who was proclaiming the glory of God took a live coal from the altar and touched it to Isaiah’s mouth saying “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:5-7).
When Isaiah heard God’s call to go he immediately jumped at the opportunity. Isaiah was eager to serve God in some way, any way, not because he felt guilty but because God had taken his guilt away. We serve not out of a sense of guilt or obligation.
We serve not in an effort to be forgiven, but we serve because we are forgiven. We serve as an act of worship.
Isaiah didn’t say “Here I am! Send me” until after he had an encounter with God. We encounter God through worship and we continue our worship experience by serving as an expression of our worship. In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney says it well: “Worship empowers serving, and serving expresses worship.”
As Charles H. Spurgeon preached, “The heir of heaven serves his Lord simply out of gratitude; he has no salvation to gain, no heaven to lose. Now out of love to God who chose him, and who gave so great a price for his redemption, he desires to lay out himself entirely to his Master’s service . . . . The child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved.”
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). It is in view of God’s mercy, in light of what He has done and the grace we experience as we encounter God through worship that we offer ourselves as an act of worship.
Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship.
Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor