Four Foundational Convictions About Worship: Part 3
In this 4-part series, we’re discovering four foundational convictions that every follower of Jesus should have. Go back and check out Convictions 1 and 2 if you haven’t yet.
Conviction #3: True Worship emphasizes Being before Doing
In Luke chapter ten, we read about Jesus’ unique encounter with two sisters who incarnated both correct and incorrect attitudes toward worship. One focused on serving. The other focused on sitting. One focused on action. The other focused on adoration.
This important passage sheds light on both the heart of worship and the motivation for service. While Martha sweated and slaved in the kitchen, Mary simply sat at Jesus’ feet. While Martha huffed and puffed, Mary sat quietly listening to Jesus’ voice. While Martha cooked and prepared food, Mary received spiritual food from the Bread of Life.
Luke offers us an honest glimpse into Martha’s heart in verse 40 by stating, “Martha was distracted with much serving.” The word distracted literally means “to be drawn away” or “to be dragged about.” In other words, Martha allowed the urgent things in her life to crowd out the important things. She allowed herself to be dragged away from Jesus (the important) in order to attend to a beeping oven and a burning stove (the urgent).
Now please don’t miss the point. I am not devaluing hard work and service (The Lord knows how much I appreciate coming home to a fresh, homemade meal from my amazing wife!) On the contrary, work is vital. God made us to work. He initiated work prior to the Fall. But we have predominantly misunderstood the role of work in the modern age.
Interestingly, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that we began to see the rise of the 40-hour workweek. The mindset of “working for the weekend” and TGIF soon crept into the church (see Tribes by Seth Godin for more on this). In the process, work lost its redemptive value. Fast forward to 2014. Now, this factory mindset, when applied to “Christian” work and service, has produced duty-driven ministry—a punching of the religious time card to appease our heavenly boss because it’s what good Christians do. This attitude toward work divorces itself completely from God’s intention of the work/worship relationship.
God’s design has always been for worship to lead to work. But, since our hearts are corrupt, work has a way of often paralyzing us from real worship. Again, don’t misunderstand: activity for God is a good thing, but it must be birthed out of our time with Him so that it is responsive rather than a responsibility. Or to say it another way: don’t place the doing before the being. Surrender always leads to service. When we get serious about intimacy with God, serving Him will be a natural result.
Let’s go back to that passage in Luke 10 for a moment. In verse 42, Jesus makes one of the most startling statements of His entire ministry. He says, “But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen that good portion.” If you were to ask Jesus today what is the single most important thing I can do with my life on a daily basis, He would tell you in two words, “SIT DOWN!” God is not looking for people to serve Him. He is looking for people who want to know Him. He is looking for worshippers who will sit at His feet. Will you commit to sit simply sit as His feet?
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth, that he may strongly support those whose heart is completely his” (NASB). Those are the worshipers He’s looking for. People whose hearts are completely His. People who desire to sit at his feet and get to know him. True worship emphasizes being before doing.