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Anything we do can be worship | The basics of whole-life worship (2/5)

In this blog series, Sam and Sara Hargreaves, co-authors of LICC’s Whole Life Worship resource, explore how the worship we offer in church can shape the way we worship in all the variety of our lives – and how churches can grow a culture that equips people to act, speak, and work in worship, every day of the week.

Worship is not just about the spiritual and the emotional. The Christian story tells of God making the heavens and the earth, the visible and the invisible (Colossians 1:16). This God makes human beings with both physical bodies and spiritual souls, and he asks us to love him with our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Mark 12:30). This whole-self offering is highlighted in a passage which often comes up when people talk about worship:

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.’ (Romans 12:1)

The word ‘bodies’ here shows us that our worship is not limited to simply a spiritual or inner experience. In fact, a better translation might be your ‘whole self’, with John Calvin commenting: ‘not only our skin and bones but the totality of which we are composed.’

Offering our whole selves to God is at the heart of Whole Life Worship. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes:

‘whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ (Colossians 3:17)

In this sense, anything we do can be worship: completing a tax return, looking after children, digging the garden, organising a team, doing a business deal, caring for the sick or the elderly, writing a poem, cleaning out a sewer, working on a spreadsheetall of this and more can be done as worship to God.

But what, practically, does that scattered worship look like? What does it mean to worship God in ways that don’t necessarily involve singing, or saying a prayer, or even explicitly mentioning God? We would say that in order to be worship, our words, attitudes and actions need to be done in his power, his way and for his glory.

His power: we need to keep in mind that, ultimately, nothing we do can be of eternal significance unless it is empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. And we don’t do any of these good works based on our own righteousness. The Romans passage above reminds us that our response is ‘in view of God’s mercy’. We live lives of worship to God the Father ‘through Jesus’, trusting that all our offerings will be received by his grace.

His way: bringing our everyday worship ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’ means acting and speaking in ways that echo Jesus’ life and values as we see them in the gospels. It means decision-making that reflects his justice, administration that echoes God bringing order from chaos, creativity that displays his playful imagination, authority that demonstrates his servant leadership, and more.

His glory: This doesn’t necessarily mean singing praise songs all day around the office, or writing ‘for the glory of God’ at the bottom of each email. But it does remind us to take our egos off the top spot, to be grateful to God for all the good things we enjoy and to take any natural opportunities with the people around us to give God credit.

Sam and Sarah Hargreaves
Engage Worship

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Gathered worship shapes us | The basics of whole-life worship (3/5)

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