Worship And Sacrifice

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In both my junior and senior years of high school, I tried out for the golf team. My parents had bought me a ‘summer membership’ at the local golf course so I could practice anytime I wanted (and probably to keep me out of trouble). When tryouts came along in the fall, I was feeling confident.

Now, I should be clear. Golf was enjoyable. The thought of walking around with my friends for a couple hours after school seemed good enough, let alone the fact that I’d get to play a mildly competitive sport while doing it. Did I practice that hard in the summer? Not really. Was I passionate about golf? Well…

So tryouts came and went. And guess who’s name was NOT on the list for the team? Mine!!! After all that effort and practice and time?!?!? And even worse, after I’d talked all that smack to the freshmen and sophomores?!?!? Do you know the hit your pride takes when you talk smack to freshmen, and they beat you out?!?!? I’d guess it’s about the equivalent of getting sacked as a quarterback. But I don’t know. I was too busy getting cut from the golf team to go play any football…

 

THEN GUESS WHAT HAPPENED!?!?!?

 

I got over it. Golf wasn’t that important to me. There weren’t any Arnold Palmer posters hanging on my walls (though, a refreshing iced tea concoction named after him is occasionally important to me). And sure, I spent some time on my game that summer, but it was self-invested. I was getting some Dev-Dev time…

 

There is something about small sacrifices that keeps us from the heart of the Father. Not quantitatively speaking (as in, just be faithful in 100 little things). I’m talking about qualitativemeasurement because the heights of our worship directly relates to the depths of our hearts. And God, who is Spirit, often reaches for the intangibles (love, integrity, humility, etc.) of our hearts, through the tangibles (kids, money, GOLF, the dream house, etc.) of our lives.

 

The measure of our love always determines the level of our sacrifice…

 

Now, did I have an incredible love for golf? No. It meant little to nothing. It was therefore not going to get MUCH of a sacrifice from me. Let’s pretend I had an insane passion for golf, but I chose not to practice…ever. The sacrifice offered in such a case (no practice), in no way matched the value I held for the game of golf. Either I start with a low value of the object, in which case, I sacrifice very little to begin with. Or I start with a high value of the object, but a low value sacrifice (which can mean that I don’t truly value the object as highly as I say, or I may not believe my sacrifice itself to be of enough value). In the first case, if I do not value God AS God, I will absolutely find, or have found something to replace Him. In the second case, if I do not value the sacrifice I offer as enough, then I likely don’t value God as good. If we’re concerned about our sacrifice, then we can be confident that God has already considered us…

Here’s the thing: you can’t offer sacrifice until the worship has taken place, otherwise we are stepping closer to idolatry. Sacrifice is merely the OUTWARD EXPRESSION of our worship, which is an INWARD PRIORITIZATION for something greater. And it ALWAYS finds a way out. The reason God condemns idolatry is because it is an outward expression of an inward misappropriation. It is choosing less than the great and worse than the good. This is why John says in his first letter that “anyone who says ‘I love God’, but hates their brother is a liar…” It chooses less than the good/great. But guess what? There’s an opportunity for real worship to take place in our hearts with that. And what about James, who calls out church leaders for favoring the rich and forgetting the poor, widows, and orphans? Our worship will certainly find an expression in sacrifice, but our sacrifices allow us the opportunity to recognize and readjust what we truly worship in our hearts…

 

So, what are we actually sacrificing to God? We shouldn’t want pat answers. I want to be obsessed with how I can love God more and recognize him more in my life.

In the gospel of Luke chs.2 & 19, we read stories about Jesus being in the temple at Jerusalem. In the first story his words are, “don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” And in the second, as he throws tables around and whips people, his words are “MY house shall be called a house of prayer, but you’ve turned it into a den of thieves!”

Before Jesus walked into the temple, he set the value of what he worshipped, and his words and sacrifice matched the value he had for his Father.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose” –Jim Eliot

 

So, what do I need to give up that resets the value of God in my heart? What do you need to pursue that will remind you that you’re his child? It’s all our failures and success in these things, our sacrifices, that are the substance and expression to our worship. We don’t come to sing songs and catch up with God for the week. We come to lay our hearts bare before him and one another with our sacrifices…

Half our sacrifices simply represent overcoming our fears and trusting again. Some of you are afraid to lift your hands in worship; God might want you to lift your hands. Some of you only lift your hands in honor of God; God might want you to reach for him like a child for their Father. Some of you are afraid to sing because you aren’t naturally gifted in it; God wants you to sing at the top of your lungs. Some of you are gifted and amazing singers; God might want you to be silent. Maybe you screamed at your wife and kids last week; God might want you to get on your knees and pray. Maybe you made it a whole week without getting road rage or cussing out your co-workers; God might want you to stand on your chair and shout it out. All our sacrifices look different. But the heart of our worship is the same…

 

Luh yuh!

Devon L.

Worship Director