Transforming Worship

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN EMBARRASSED to hear yourself laughing exactly like a good friend laughs? Our voices often imitate someone we love and admire. This is because God has created us, his image bearers, to adopt the mannerisms of the objects of our worship. The Creator designed us to be worshiping beings. We simply can’t help it. People eat, drink, sleep and worship. Worship is part of our constitution! God’s purpose for making us this way is that we will become increasingly like him.


          Countless numbers of people have told me that my son Stephen looks like me. Photos of me as a little boy are strikingly similar to photos of my son. Just as a little boy appears as a small image of his daddy, our Father desires for us to increasingly resemble him. Paul notes this in his letter to the Ephesians, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.”[1] There is a catch, however. If we direct our worship to something besides God, the law of transforming worship still applies! If we spend our lives worshiping money, we will most certainly become transformed. Our hearts will become enslaved by greed. To worship an inanimate object such as a house, a shiny new Lexus, or anything besides God results in being transformed into inorganic, stone cold hearts. Be assured, there is a certain way to reduce yourself into an inert, changeless being; existing statically and void of metamorphosis … worship yourself.


          As we raise our voices to God, we are consciously saying something like, “What you are is what I value more than anything else. I desire you and will not hold myself back from you. Something about you captures my heart and beckons my soul. Everything I know about you compels me to confront everything that I know about me.” Worship is activated on our acceptance of who God is and what he has revealed about himself. God wants us to know that he is the Origin and Progenitor of love. He is the Creator. He calls us to imitate his action to make himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, humbling himself and becoming obedient to death.[2] Why has God humbled himself? In response to the desperation of humanity!


          God wants to sweep us onto our feet, not off them. He commands us to worship him so that we will become more like him—more actively engaged; not more distant. My freedom to respond to my wife with a warm smile and say, “Sure, honey, no problem—I’ll fix the toilet!” is deeply interrelated with the One who captivates my mind as I worship. Jesus chastised the Pharisees for honoring God with their lips while their hearts remained cold, yet he didn’t stop there. He pointed to the empty overflow of their lives as evidence of this empty worship.[3] Taking a few minutes every Sunday morning to rush through some songs is really no different. If this is the extent of our worship, it is inevitable that our lives will demonstrate the same cold banality.


          As we hone in on the Creator God, and get our hearts in sync with his heart, may worship propel us, generating our life momentum. As we rise each morning to worship the God who loves, who sacrifices himself on behalf of others, who humbled himself and became a servant and surrendered himself to the cross, our worship of him will result in our becoming more like him. Conflicts between squabbling church members will be resolved, corruption and injustice in our cities will be challenged, and the ends of the earth will discover that worshiping Jesus is the most relevant, spirited, and life-changing path to freedom ever to explode into human history. The nations will stand in awe that the Spirit who hovers over the formless and empty void and says, “Let there be light,” is the One their souls crave.


[1] Ephesians 5:1-2.


[2] From Philippians 2:7-8.


[3] Matthew 15:7-20.





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