Dr. John B. MacDonald
Slideshow image

While scanning a newspaper dated November 3, 1911, an article caught my eye. It was about the ropes used in the British navy.  

Since the days of Admiral Nelson (1758-1805), each rope used in the British naval service – no matter how large or small – has had woven into it a single red thread. That red thread is a mark of authenticity and ownership.

Let me use this as a metaphor for true worship. 

Many strands, one rope

Three strands of worship have been introduced in this series. We could have included more, but here’s a summary of the three:

  • Bowing down’ (proskuneō word group) to “express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure” [1] – in this context, to the one true God.
  • Serving’ (latreuō) as “the dangerous act of waking up to God and to the purpose of God in the world, and then living lives that actually show it.” [2] 

In the Bible, worship includes these three aspects (and more). They are like strands woven together into one rope.

What would worship be like if you allowed these three strands to be woven together as one in your life?

Would worship not be healthier and more vibrant? Would it not include every area of your life? 

What is the red thread?

All of these strands are true worship when they are directed toward the God who reveals himself as Jesus Christ. Jesus is the scarlet thread of worship.

So, bowing down to an Asherah pole or a golden calf; reverencing the Mayan corn god; devoting your life to accumulating wealth or status; serving a cause in which Jesus has no part – all of these are but idols, counterfeits of true worship.

The absence of Jesus Christ woven throughout worship is like a rope that lacks the red thread. No matter how sincere that activity may be, it lacks authenticity and divine ownership.

What part does Jesus Christ have in your ‘worship’?  

Now lets combine these two components of genuine worship—authenticity and divine ownership:

  • these ‘strands’ woven together as one to incorporate all of your life; and,
  • the ‘scarlet thread’ of the living Christ flowing through it all.

Such worship will be in the presence of God, and for the presence of God, in our world. 

What might this worship look like?

Here are four glimpses of an infinite array of possibilities. 

1.         How we think

If you and I can embrace this expansive, God-exalting vision of worship, would it not radically change the way we think?

For instance, how does the action of “bowing down” – part of our worship language’ – affect our minds and souls?

If you are speaking face-to-face with someone, you are in a position of relative equality. 

What happens when you physically kneel before the ‘other’? What impact does that posture have upon you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

Now transfer that impact to the way you think of worship. Can you maintain that spiritual posture of ‘bowing down’ to God throughout the day? What differences would that make in the way you think? 

2.         How we speak

The way we talk about worship will probably change.

We can sing to the Lord together on Sunday, and that can be an act of worship. But to call a musician the ‘worship leader,’ or equate the word ‘worship’ with music, reduces worship.  

In situations where that language is still used, perhaps a gentle and appropriate conversation about ‘worship’ will get people thinking, and developing an awareness of how all-encompassing worship is intended to be

3.         How we relate

In what way does this enlarged view of worship influence how we relate to God and to other people?

For one, if worship becomes a 24/7 activity, it can no longer be abbreviated to an event on Sundays. As a result, your relationship with God will grow.

For another, it will change the way we treat people. You are made in the image of God. As you worship the ‘God of the image’ in all of life, you will treat others as ‘the image of God’ in all of life. 

4.         How we serve

Worship includes discerning our spiritual gifts and allowing the Spirit to empower us in the service of God. This becomes service to others as an extension of the activity of Jesus Christ for the glory of God (1 Peter 4:10-11).

As you wash the dishes – treat that as an act of worship. Consciously acknowledge that you are acting as the “hands” of Jesus Christ to serve those with whom you ate.

As you serve customers and provide for their needs, intentionally treat that as an act of worship. As you teach children in public school or Sunday school, let it be an act of worship.

On Sunday, as you proclaim God’s message, or as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, offer them as acts of worship. 

As you shovel snow on the sidewalk up to the property line with your aged neighbor – purposefully continue to shovel her sidewalk as an act of worship. 

I offer these few simple examples as an encouragement to you to live all of life as an act of worship.

What do you have to add? 

For the podcast CLICK HERE

BACK TO 4 Elements of Worship Renewal 

[1] W. Bauer, F. W. Danker, and others, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. [2] Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2007), 13.

Photo Credit: rafling via Compfight cc

Don't Miss Out! Keep Updated.

Signup below to stay in the loop with 'living theology'.

Subscribe

Want to follow Jesus more closely?

Get your FREE copy of "Listening Well to Matthew."

Claim