“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
When we think of worship, most of the time our minds immediately go to singing on a Sunday morning. I mean church services are often referred to as worship services, there is a worship team and a worship leader, but today, I’d like to move away from this common idea. I’ve talked about worship from that perspective here before, but I want to talk about worship that we all possess. You may not be a singer, but you are fully capable of worship. When I look at worship, I think it’s better to see worship as a lifestyle, not just a Sunday morning state of mind (or an occasional mid-week service that happen). We’ve turned the concept of worship to no be a lifestyle but a “thing” we have to do. This often happens in the routine of our relationship with God. Read the bible. Check. Pray. Check. Listen to Hillsong on the way to work. Check. Listen to a church podcast on the way home (mainly to help the blood boiling anger of rush hour traffic, Orlando I4 what’s up). Check.
The thing is, worship was never meant to be a part of our checklist, it was supposed to be a state of being.
You are awake today and that means you should be living a worship lifestyle.
I adore the book of Habakkuk, because it’s all about a man who is seeing the chaos of the world around him and crying out to God asking him how this can be! I relate to that so much. Often our situations don’t go the way we want, that’s due to sin being in this world. We want perfection and forget we live in an imperfect world. I know it’s hard to swallow that. We have things happen to us that are not fair, they are not good things, yet we are still called to be the light, which means we need to live differently. We live differently when we live with a lifestyle of worship. This idea was sparked by a worship leader at Celebration Church Orlando, she took a moment to say that no matter what you are going through, no matter what your feelings are, let it all go and just worship. I think that’s a powerful sentiment, and that’s how we are to live with a worship lifestyle. Just like the conclusion that Habakkuk comes to in his dialogue with God, despite the pain in and around my life, I will lift up my eyes to God and praise him.
That’s a worship lifestyle, and that is a radical choice that will change your life forever.
Emotions are real, but we are not called to let them control our lives.
As someone who has dealt with anxiety, emotions are tricky. There are days where you feel “off,” you may struggle having true happiness in whatever situation you may find yourself in, and it’s possible to have those around you cause your headspace to grow angry or sad. In these moments it’s important to know that they do not define you. Your emotions change with the wind, but God is steadfast, he never changes. In moments where it’s hard, where you don’t want to read scripture, when you don’t want to go to church, when you don’t feel like talking to God, press in. Worship despite how you feel. You can be angry at what you think God is causing you to walk through in your life and still praise him above all things. Don’t let Satan control you through the mood you find yourself in. It’s okay for you to feel “off” or to have a bad day, but always remember that God is working and he is in control.
Habakkuk comes to this place. He sees that in everything, even when life seems to be falling apart, he will choose to praise God. The same should be true of followers of Christ. When we look at the lives of the disciples, they had a mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. No internet or quick transportation, simply walking and sailing to lands where they would be persecuted and threatened with death. We see them in prison, and they pray, they worship with passion unlike ever before. We are called to live like this. That even in prison with threat of death, we continue to raise up and praise our King. Emotions are real, and they can cause your mind to dwell in dark places, but there is hope. You can get a professional equipped to help you, and you can be free of this struggle. A lifestyle of worship is saying, “God, even through this hurt, I will praise you and trust you.”
A lifestyle of worship means that you are called to love people in a radical way.
We as the church need to get way better at this. A worship lifestyle applies to how we need to praise God despite our emotions and pains, but it also means that you are a light in the way you love. We need to come together and be for people, not simply label the sin on their life. This is what Jesus did when he ate in the homes of people that the Pharisees detested. Whether it was a sin they had been marked by or a sickness which was deemed to be the result of sin, Jesus came into their world and had dinner with them. Jesus was an ally. He chose to love people like Zacchaeus, a man who was a cheat and generally not nice, Jesus entered his world, not joining what he was doing, but entered and called out the purpose that was in the heart of a tax collector. Jesus loved these people. Jesus loved the man that betrayed him. Jesus at his last moments on the cross loved a man who had been sentenced to death on the cross next to him. We need to love people in radical ways.
I’ll never forget when I was in my small group in high school, and one of the guys talked about how he had been dealing with homosexuality. He opened up and was fearful, fearful of the way we would react, yet in that moment my friend Tyler said let’s pray. We prayed with this guy, not shaming or demonizing him, but coming alongside of him and helping him walk through how-to live-in forgiveness and relationship with Christ. No sin is bigger than another, yet we often forget that. Your porn addiction, substance abuse, temper, and the myriad of other things that can cause us to lose sight of God are the same in his eyes. Why would I choose to hate someone who I love?
I believe what scripture says. So that means I know what is sin, but I also know that I am not called to judge. I am called to point people back to Christ and he will sort out the rest. Be radical and have a worship lifestyle, loving others and pointing them back to Jesus. Always Jesus.
I encourage everyone to read the book of Habakkuk. It’s three chapters where Habakkuk gets real and raw with God. God isn’t afraid of our big questions, and he will always set us back on track. I am called to have a worship lifestyle. I will not let setbacks and disappointments control me or tell me who I am. It’s not easy and doesn’t always feel good, but that’s not what we are called to as Christ followers. The gospel gets uncomfortable. We are called to reach an imperfect world until we join our father once again. So don’t let your emotions control you, and don’t let the enemy cause you to hate the people you are called to reach. Be radical. Be love. Be the hands and feet of Christ.
Live a worship lifestyle.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can tweet memes at him on Twitter @joshua_thomas__ or follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__