Turning Your World Upside Down through Worship
When you ask some people about what they want to do with their lives, you sometimes get the response, “I want to change the world.” That’s quite a lofty goal. It’s almost as though anything less than changing the world would make one’s life less meaningful. But I think that what Christians are called to do with our lives does in fact change the world and turn it upside down.
Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the Bible tells us that God’s image in His creation has been marred by sin. Sin has turned our love for God and His glory into a love of ourselves and the pursuit of our own pleasure. So, even today, the world revolves around mankind’s pursuits and ambitions to make himself great and satisfy his own physical and emotional longings. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change that.
The Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). God saves us from His wrath. The condemnation is deserved for our sinful refusal to “honor him as God or give thanks to him” and for exchanging “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal men” (Romans 1:21-23). Believing in His Son Jesus Christ not only saves us from God’s wrath but also frees us from sin to live for God’s glory, just as God intended.
Once we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus” the Spirit of God transforms us into worshippers of God. The worship of God is what we were meant for all along. The change within us is so profound that it affects our desires and our delights and conforms us into the image of Christ. Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).
So, the mission of the Church as the Body of Christ is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that there will be more worshippers of God. As John Piper is well-known for saying, “Worship is the goal and the fuel of missions: Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Our proclamation of the Gospel isn’t the goal, nor is leading a person to salvation by placing their faith in Jesus Christ. Those are needed steps toward the goal of transforming a person into a worshipper of God.
It’s important to have the goal in mind whenever we set about our mission. If our goal is to proclaim the Gospel, we’ll count each opportunity that we took to explain “The 4 Spiritual Laws” as a win. If our goal is to get people to pray “The Sinner’s Prayer,” we’ll count such a prayer as a win. But our goal is to “make disciples” of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). We need to continue to teach people the truths of God’s character, His will, and His ways, so that they learn how to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
One of my favorite expressions of worship to God is through songs and music. The delight of glorifying God and the experience of His presence is to me so real and satisfying when I lift my voice in melodies and harmonies. As long as the songs and melodies are well written, my mind becomes focused on the truth from Scripture, and my heart is filled with wonder, joy, gratitude, or peace. At times, my heart can quickly shift between those emotions as I get immersed in the experience. Sometimes, it even overflows in tears.
I know, worship can also be expressed through prayer, obedience, silence, and excellence at work. I worship God that way too. But as a musician and playing a musical instrument while “singing and making melody to the Lord” with my heart, I feel like my whole being is being used by God for His glory alone. And the worship of God is what my life is for. The experience is something I love to share with others, so my joy runs even deeper when I lead others through songs that are filled with God’s truth.
Only God can open sinful hearts to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so we wait upon Him as we faithfully bear testimony of Jesus Christ. Only the Spirit of God can bring a person to repentance, so we pray for them in the hope that one day they will confess their sins and believe in Jesus Christ. But missions is all about the Father seeking worshippers who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. So, we should continue to pray for people to experience a transformation of heart, that they seek only to honor and glorify God with their lives.
If every person would go from being worshipper of self to being a worshipper of God, the world would indeed be a very different place.
by N. Erik Nielsen
IBC President and Pastor, First International Baptist Church, Copenhagen, Denmark