Worship That Transforms

Our special guest blogger is Pastor Gary Keith. Gary is Lead Pastor at Life Bible Fellowship in Upland, CA. Gary and I have been accountability and prayer partners for over 30 years, and I consider him one of my closest friends. God has used our relationship to bring much transformation in our lives, as we encourage each other to live out WholeLifeWorship 24/7/365. I hope and pray Gary’s insights into the transforming power of WholeLifeWorship speaks to your hearts. – DL

Before we talk about worship that transforms, let’s work on a definition of worship. And as I have studied this topic, it’s really difficult to find one all-encompassing definition.

The most favorite book I have ever read about worship is called, “Real Worship” by Warren Wiersbe (Nelson 1990). Wiersbe would say that worship is very hard to define; but after some careful thought he came up with the following definition: 

“Worship is the believer’s response of all that he/she is – mind, emotions, will and body – to all that God is and says and does. This response has a mystical (supernatural/Spiritual) side in subjective experience – and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.”

What a great definition!!! I love it because it represents someone who is living as a WholeLifeWorshipper of God.

But then the question is: What should be the result of all of this?

The answer: Transformation

Look with me at Romans 12:1-2, a well-known passage on worship.

“Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern 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.”

I’m sure most of us spent time in a grade school class watching a cocoon and hoping a beautiful butterfly would emerge. What happens in that cocoon is called metamorphosis. This is the same word Paul uses in this passage translated as “transformed” (Metamorphousthe), which literally means “to be changed into another form” and this change comes from within. In other words, the change on the outside is normal and natural expression of the nature on the inside. I mean, you would never produce a butterfly by pinning wings on a worm!! The change must come from within. 

We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our mind – God wants to transform us. Paul here contrasts two ways of life – that of the believer who is being transformed by God – and that of the believer who is being conformed to the world. We are either being a transformer – someone who lives by the power from within. Or a conformer – someone who lives by the pressure from without

J.B. Phillips brings this out in his translation of this passage: He says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” I love how he puts it. Listen we are either forming our lives by pressure without – or we are transforming our lives by power within – the difference is what we worship.

Worship is not only a Sunday morning experience but also a way of life. Worship is a lifestyle. It’s my belief that each time the Holy Spirit prompts us and we say “yes” to God we are worshipping him. Each time we say “no” we need to repent. 

In those times when I’m facing temptation with my thought life, I’ve found that as I take action by saying YES, God has been faithful to help me to live in the transformation I desire. With this temptation the Spirit usually prompts me to move towards reading a scripture passage, or watch a sermon or call a friend to pray with me. But always as I say YES to God, I’ve found I’m able to move away from the temptation.

You see, when we say “yes” we are elevating life to an eternal perspective focused on God and his purposes. And in the process, we come away redirected and renewed in our efforts to live and serve God. And when we do this often we can then look back and see how God has been at work transforming our life.

So let me ask a couple of questions for you to reflect on and take appropriate steps of action as God leads you:

  1. How is my worship bringing transformation to my life?
  2. What area – mind, will, emotions and body – am I not bringing in my worship of God?
  3. What action will I take to allow God to bring transformation to my life?

Worship has a much deeper purpose than singing songs that make us feel better or to give praise and honor to God. Neither is God some sort of narcissistic Being who demands our adulation. Rather, the “end game” of worship is to transform us into our truest selves, which comes as we willing offer our whole lives to Him. As we do, we become more Christ-like so that we (like Jesus) can know and do the will of God to change the world around us for good. Thank you, Pastor Gary, for reminding us this!

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