The calls went out loud, early, and all day long while I was India. One particular day, the Hindu prayers and call to worship lasted 24 hours. November was a sacred month for Hindus in the southeastern Indian village. The worship of Shiva was front and center.
The large, looming presence of the village temple impacted me. So did the images of gods on totem poles in the streets and on doorposts of homes. God worship was embedded in the lives of the villagers. I watched people come and go from Shiva’a temple court on a daily basis. Everywhere you went, people were trying to get to God.
I’m in awe that we no longer have to strive to get to God. The living God came down to humanity as the baby Jesus. He made His dwelling place on earth by living among us. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He dwells with us through the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are His temple.
God with Us
As I looked at the temple each morning, one phrase went through my mind: Emmanuel–God with us.
God is not a mystical spirit or a graven image we have to get to or appease. God came to us. God desires a relationship with us. He provided a way for us to have unlimited access to Him through His gift of salvation and eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In response, our lives, breath, and our being should be an act of living worship.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 (NIV, 1984)
Observing the worship of other religions, I’m challenged as to whether we Christ followers live our lives as an act of living worship. It’s a sobering reality that God dwells in us, yet we don’t consider ourselves walking temples where Jesus resides.
Instead, we put Christ on a shelf like the latest trinket. We display Him as the source of our token religion. Worship consists of listening to the trendiest Christian songs because of how they make us feel. Worship is more about us than Jesus.
As I observed the outward worship of Hindus, Buddhist, and Muslims, I wondered if people we interact with see our words, behaviors, and actions as an act of worship to Jesus Christ. Does anything about our lives reflect Him to others?
Where I Saw Worship
Every morning a group of Christian women gathered in the chapel at Menno Clinic. I witnessed the purest form adoration. There weren’t any instruments, worship leaders or spiritual guidance. There were just women who gathered on colorful mats, sang songs, and read a chapter from the Bible. Then, they covered their heads with their scarves, kneeled with their faces to the floor, and prayed.
In their presence, I learned the posture, humility, and reverence of worship. It seemed sacred in comparison to what is called worship in modern Christianity.
I wonder if God is grieved at what He sees among His children and what happens inside the bodily temples where He resides.
I don’t think we worship well. It’s evident in this Christmas season of gross materialism, commercialism, and the current politicism of American Christianity,
Do we live in reverence of who God is? Do our thoughts, attitudes, speech, and actions reflect His presence? Do we claim Christianity for convenience, not even considering the miracle of Christ coming to us and living in us?
Are we compelled to worship Jesus through our daily lives?
Changing Our Posture
As we approach the sacred holiday of Christmas, I’m challenged to consider, with wonder, our posture and position in worship. If people were to spend a week among us, observing us, would our devotion to Christ be as evident as a Hindu’s, Buddhist’s, and Muslim’s worship of their gods? Are people aware of Christ by our living worship?
I’m asking myself and you these questions as we enter the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We shouldn’t worship the baby at Christmas, but Jesus, Emmanuel–God with us–through our thoughts, attitudes, and actions year round.
As Christmas and 2018 approaches, I wonder what posture our worship will take?
Father, help me to consider the sacredness of you living in me. Forgive me when I dishonor you and fail to grasp your holiness and goodness. Make me sensitive to my life as an act of worship to you, but also a reflection of you to others. Teach me how to worship you, Jesus, in spirit and truth in 2018. Amen.
Merry Christmas from my home to yours here at Life Beyond the Picket Fence!
Sharing my favorite personal photo of the whole year. This was at my son’s wedding, who’s fledged now to his own home with his new bride. Enjoy time with your loved ones this Christmas. Simply love them.