About fifteen years ago, my band, Last Adam, was playing at a worship night for a church in Eugene, Oregon. There were two bands set to play that night, and when we agreed to play, we were under the impression we were going to be the second band to play, and that we would play for an hour. The organizer also asked us to mix in some current and well-known worship songs with our originals, and we were more than happy to oblige. So, we made our plans, built our set list, loaded up the vans, and headed to Eugene. However, when we arrived and began setting up for sound checks, we were informed the plans had changed—we would now be playing first, and our time had been reduced to thirty minutes.
Let me back up for a moment. I should let you in on a personality trait of mine; I am a planner. I like to think things through, write down some ideas, bounce those ideas off some trusted people, then set my plans. I don’t necessarily have a problem when someone throws a curveball into my plans as long as I have enough time to process, regather, and make adjustments to the plan. I am not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of guy; I admire those that are.
Okay, back to the story. We are now playing first, and our time has been cut in half. I was in full-on “freak out” mode. I couldn’t relax. Our plans were no longer relevant—what were we going to do? Fortunately, our lead singer, Tyler, was not rattled. He simply gathered the band together, and in about five minutes of deliberation, we had a new plan. We took the stage about an hour later, played some songs, and everything seemed to go quite well. However, though we had come up with a new plan that I thought was good, my attitude never got back to where it was before; I didn’t have enough time to fully process. For the rest of the night, I just had a little chip on my shoulder.
What was so amazing to me, and I’ll never forget this, was Tyler never seemed to be bothered by the change of plans. When the organizer told us of the change, he just smiled and thanked him for the update. When I went into “panic” mode, he was in “grace” mode. As we took the stage, he led the band and the people that came to worship the Lord with love and passion. You see, Tyler’s heart was in a very different place than mine was that night. I was approaching the night as a guitar player preparing for a gig; Tyler was excited about worshiping his God, and helping others worship Him. It didn’t matter if the band played for an hour or thirty minutes because he was already worshiping God. That night, Tyler was living a life of worship. His worship didn’t begin when we played the first note of a song, or sang a chorus of praise, it began the moment he set his heart on glorifying the name of Jesus Christ.
So how do we get there? How do we set our hearts on Christ and live a life of worship? The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2:
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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies to God as a living sacrifice; this is true worship. God wants all of you. He doesn’t just want your songs; He wants all of your life. But how do we give God all of our life? The second verse tells us how. First, do not conform to the patterns of this world. Meaning, this world will try to entice you into imitating, agreeing with, even worshiping what it worships. The way to resist these temptations is by being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Don’t make a list of “dos” and “don’ts” – that’s a good way to become legalistic. This transformation takes place from the inside out, and the transforming work is done by the Holy Spirit as we meditate on Scripture, pray and open ourselves up to His grace-filled and mighty work in our lives.
Then, as our minds are being renewed and our hearts transformed, we will be able to test and approve God’s will, and we will find it to be good, pleasing and perfect. Genuine worship is dependent upon right valuing, not just right thinking. If I were to read all the right books, and learn all the right words to say, and know, in my mind, many of the wonderful truths about God and His Son, Jesus, but my heart was not changed, I could not worship. Paul is saying to be transformed means you will not only be able to spot the will of God, but also love, approve and treasure His will. Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When David wrote this, he wasn’t saying that God will give you the things you want; he was saying God will change (transform) your heart’s desires from the inside out—you will begin to want what He wants. He will give you “the desires of your heart.”
John Piper summarized living a life of worship very well when he said, “The key to praising Christ is prizing Christ. Christ is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” This is the key to living a life of worship—prizing, cherishing, treasuring Christ in everything we do, think and feel. A life of worship is a life in which Christ is not only present but valued far above anything else. My challenge to you is to open yourself up to the Holy Spirit’s loving transformation of your heart. Invite Him to renew your mind so you will be able to test the will of God and find it to be good, pleasing and perfect.
Well said Jordan.