Connecting Worship to Real Life

When the story of the exodus is taught we often hit the highlights: slavery in Egypt, the burning bush, the plagues, crossing the Red Sea, Sinai and the 10 commandments, wilderness wanderings, spies in the land, etc. In all of that there is a very important chapter that gets left out that has something important to teach us about worship and that is Exodus 15. In Exodus 14 the Hebrews cross the Red Sea. They are told in advance that they are about to see with their own eyes God destroy the Egyptians. The water parts, they cross the other side and the Egyptians are killed in the sea. The very next verse (remember they didn’t have chapter and verse when it was written) says, “Then Moses and the Israelites sand this song to the Lord.” (Exo 15:1).

They worshiped.

Their response to God’s direct intervention in their lives…their very deliverance from slavery in Egypt was worship.

If you read the song they sang what you will find is that they very specifically recount the things they saw and they attribute every single action to the hand of God.

We generally worship God for two broad areas: who God is and what God has done, is doing and will do in the future. So part of worship is the overflow of the recognition of God’s involvement in our lives. God does something on our behalf and we respond in worship.

We see this all over scripture. It is in the psalms, in both the headings of the psalms that connect the psalm to real life events as well as in the content of the psalms themselves that both speak to God’s involvement and covenant faithfulness in the past as well as an expectation that God will work again in the future to bring deliverance from a new set of enemies or a new set of difficulties.

This is found in the New Testament as well. In the first two chapters of Luke we get three songs: Mary’s, Zechariah’s and Simeon’s. Each one of them speak into specifics of what God has done and will do in the future to save his people. This is in Acts too. We find it in Acts 3-4 where the healed formerly paralyzed man worships God following his healing and then the early church worships God following Peter and John’s chastisement by the Sanhedrin. Those Christians’ prayer in Acts 4 is directly tied to the verbiage of the Sanhedrin, only in a defiant reversal of the orders they received to no longer speak in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17 vs 4:29-30).

Worship is connected to real life. In fact, life itself is an act of worship when one is in Christ (Romans 12:1).

Because we tend to define worship as corporate worship we have difficulty on this connection because when we gather someone will select songs that will not all connect with where everyone in the room is at spiritually, emotionally, etc on any given day. That isn’t a problem in and of itself. The solution is that we have to broaden our view of worship beyond the assembly and begin seeing and understanding our lives to be constantly in praise to God as we look for and see God’s work in our lives on a daily basis. When God answers a prayer. We thank him…even sing a song like “Thank you” which is a song that recognizes God’s involvement in our lives most specifically for God’s deliverance which has as much to do with salvation than it does with God helping me with the things I struggle with on a day to day basis.

As we recognize God’s involvement in our lives let us make the conscious effort to give Him praise.

3 Responses to Connecting Worship to Real Life

  1. John says:

    One reason so many in the Church of Christ tradition have difficulty in connecting worship to real life, is that, for them real life is, “God is in one place; we are in another. So, God sent us a book as a substitute, and worship is connecting to the book.”

    To be fair, the CoC is not the only conservative religious community whose God is small and far away; but this has been our vein of thinking. And the pathetic part of this is when the book becomes the substitute, it too gets smaller and smaller to the point that the language describing God as near and within is rationalized away. God as “All in All” and the “kingdom within us” becomes part of the Biblical language that should not be taken literally. Maybe this is why when outsiders look inside, they see everyone standing on their heads.

  2. Mark says:

    The three songs: Mary’s, Zechariah’s and Simeon’s were almost never mentioned in the cofC. I was never sure why. I am guessing that because they are in the incarnation and birth narrative, they were deemed too Catholic for cofC use.

    Also, it seemed that when tragedies happened locally, or in the US or the world, the sermon never changed. The Lamentations were never read. Even when Christians were martyred, their names were never mentioned. The songs on the following Sunday did not change. I always wondered why this was the case. What it said loudly was that no one paid attention to the events of the past week. Isn’t this the definition of “out of touch”?

  3. Dwight says:

    It is our faith in the Regulative Principle that places us into two different worlds when it comes down to worship and service, as in worship and service is what one does in assembly. Or the argument of there is a difference between corporate worship and general worship, just like there is a difference between the money you give at assembly and the money you give any other time.
    We partition our worship and service.
    In the OT and NT there is no difference between the worship done in the Temple and the worship done outside of the Temple as it was to God. The only difference was that God regulated the worship within the Temple strictly, while not so strictly outside the Temple and yet it is all considered worship and service.
    I have heard too many lessons based on that Abraham went “up to worship” when he wen to sacrifice his son, thereby implying that he didn’t worship in other ways in other places that aren’t mentioned and don’t have him going to another location, thus he didn’t worship at home.

    We need to stop thinking of worship as an event, but rather a pattern of a worshipper.
    There is a reason we are called: the Temple, a priest and a living sacrifice and the only rules to how is “in spirit and in truth”, because we are a living, breathing place of worship able to do it anywhere and anytime.

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