They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. (Romans 1:25 NLT)
I can get detached in my thinking about the word worship. I think about singing at church (and, on occasion, singing songs by myself). Singing dos not express the entire meaning of the word worship. It’s not that the singing part of a service is worship and the teaching time is not. Worship is about worth. If worship is about worth, then worship happens all the time.
We choose what is worth our time, our energy, our focus. Every time we give ourselves over, to place our total heart on something, we are making a worship choice. We are stating what is worth our hearts and devotion much more in the decisions we make throughout the week than in a few hours on Sunday morning. Sorry, but going to church doesn’t check off the worship box on the spiritual to do list. (It’s entirely possible to go to church and not worship at all–especially if getting it checked off was the point of going.)
Paul is laying out the reality of the human condition. We are naturally bent against God. In chapter 1, he paints a picture, an ugly picture, of the out-workings of unrestrained sin. God revealed himself from the beginning and man chose to rebel. And because God made man with the freedom to choose, he let man have freedom to not choose him. The result is a messy world.
Have you ever felt angry at some of the twisted, sick things people do? That’s the reality found in Romans 1. People want to do what they want to do. As a result, people are hurtful and hateful. Before you think this is only true for those really messed up sinner types, check again. We all have the same capacity.
I’ve never done a car trade-in. The idea is of trading in an old car for a newer one. That makes perfect sense. In the spiritual world, we make trade-ins all the time. Sadly, the trade-in isn’t always for what is better. We have a choice to take what we know about God (however little or much it is) and keep it or trade it for a lie. It’s crazy, but we are willing to trade the truth of God’s love spelled out a thousand times in scripture and in life experience for a lie (like God doesn’t love me). We made the trade, and we are left with a sour soul. And with the exchange comes worship and service driven by a lie.
The trade is there and then comes the worship. Keeping with the lie about God not loving, how does that translate into life? If God doesn’t love me, he is not worth my time. What is worth my time? Me. Or, whatever makes me feel happy. The devotion God actually deserves is given to a myriad of worth-it choices. Those choices vary from person to person, but it is usually self serving. The Creator God is neglected by his own creation (you and me) because he didn’t serve us.
When something is worth our heart, it will naturally be served in our time and energy. There is no obstacle too great for what we have given our hearts too. Young lovers are the perfect picture of this. The sacrifice isn’t felt because the one we love is so worth it.
Is God worth it?
Yes. How do I express his worth? I can sing on Sunday. But more than that, I want to demonstrate my God-you-are-worth-it belief throughout the day in my moment-to-moment choices. Choices to love–when I don’t feel like it. Choosing to be thankful when I didn’t get everything the way I wanted it. Letting go of my iron clad grip of control and releasing it. Why would I do that? Because God is worth it. When I release my will and my way to his, that is worship.
Father God, help me to worship you fully. I want to choose you first and foremost, but my heart easily strays. Help me to cling to what is true, especially what is true about you. As I walk in truth, let my life be a worshiping life. You created me. My very life is because you made me. There is no me without you. How could I make this life about me, when it is about you. Help me to worship and serve you. In Jesus’ name, amen.