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  • Writer's pictureTrent Murray

Worship & Fellowship: Productivity Through the Spiritual Disciplines Pt. 3


In our trek through the spiritual disciplines, we arrived this week at the disciplines of worship & fellowship. You will find Worship in almost every spiritual discipline book you could pick up, however the same isn't necessarily true of fellowship. I hope to show you why fellowship goes hand in hand with worship and how it makes you a more productive Christian.


I must first remind you of our working definition of biblical productivity: Glorifying God through good works for his kingdom for the purpose of Christlikeness and the good of others. I believe that Pursuing the disciplines of worship and fellowship are necessary in this aim.


Worship


"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe," - Hebrews 12:28

We must view worship as a discipline in order to ensure our offerings of worship to God are on his terms. We offer God acceptable worship in view of what he has done for us: in specific atoning for our sin and giving us an inheritance, a kingdom that cannot be shaken. God is worthy of our praise and adoration just on the merit of his character and nature alone. When you add on top of that the fact that he loves us and has sacrificed his only son to repair the fragmented relationship between himself and his image bearers, we should have no other proper response but to worship!


Originally in English, worthship, could be defined as attributing worth to something. I contend that biblical worship is anything that properly ascribes value to God in Spirit and Truth. There is a lot to break down in that definition, so let's take a deeper look.


First, worship is anything that properly ascribes value to God...

  • We worship God when we say what is true and good about him. To offer any praise or adoration that devalues God or does not hold him in a place of reverence and awe is to fail in properly attributing value to God.

  • We fail to worship God when we attribute things to him that are not holy and pure, good and kind, just and merciful.

  • We are good at ascribing value to a lot of things in this life but to give God proper value he must have ultimate value. Ascribing anything other than supreme worth to God is a failure to properly worship.


"To give God proper value he must have ultimate value."

Next, worship is anything that properly ascribes value to God in Spirit...

  • This is multifaceted in that we must worship God in the Holy Spirit, as God is himself Spirit. But we must also worship in our spirit to be worshipping God.

  • To say the right things about God in apathy and with no conviction in our spirit is to utter the most meaningful words in the universe with a meaningless intent.

  • God created man in his image, and to worship God is to experience a full range of human emotion. God created us in such a way that glory excites us and awakens us. Sin and death should grieve us. When we properly ascribe worth to God we should feel the weight of what we are saying.

  • This does not mean that all instances of human emotion are worship. There will be times where we worship without radical emotional responses. However, we must realize that when we worship the Lord and his Spirit draws near to ours it is a natural outflowing of that worship that we will be stirred in our spirit to worship him not only with what we are saying but as our whole being attests to what we are saying or doing.


"To say the right things about God in apathy and with no conviction in our spirit is to utter the most meaningful words in the universe with a meaningless intent. "

Finally Worship is anything that properly ascribes value to God in Spirit and Truth.

  • If we get swept up in human emotion, yet lack any truth of God we are not worshipping, we are simply acting on an emotional response.

  • To become emotional and to be stirred in our spirit while uttering untruths about God we are failing to offer acceptable worship.

  • Albert Mohler once said "your emotional response to a doctrine does not determine it's veracity" Ultimately we must have a faith that is not formed by feelings that ebb and flow but that are based on objective truth.

  • Our culture believes that truth is different for every person and that it is something within each of us that we must individually search for. This is just so far from what we can observe all around us. Truth is an objective immovable structure outside of ourselves that is not determined by what we feel or think, but what God has spoken.

  • One other nugget I enjoy is Augustines quip: "All truth is God's truth". This is to say that if someone stumbles upon an incredible truth it is not something they have discovered within themselves or created, it is something that is preexistent in the character and nature of God. If we see anything true in the world it is because God has said it is true. Jesus himself is the way, the truth, and the life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. - Philippians 4:8

Wether we read God's word, pray, fast, sing, use our talents, proclaim the Goodness of the Lord, we must do so in Spirit and in Truth with our full focus on him. Worship of God is impossible without focus on God.



Fellowship


So how does fellowship fit into this conversation as a discipline that we are to practice and work on to grow in Christlikeness? Acts 2:42 said that the early church devoted themselves to the Apostle's teaching and to the fellowship. This greek word for fellowship, κοινωνία, is in essence a sharing in with one another or a collective participation in something.


I argue that proper fellowship is simply worship in community.


All that we discussed above needs to not only be practiced in a personal relationship with Christ, but also in fellowship with other believers. It is not essential for a believer to be a member of a local church in order to be saved, however fellowship is something that God has created for our good and for our protection as we persevere in this world as sojourners. Jonathan Leeman says it this way: "A Christian without a church is a Christian in trouble."Lone-Wolf Christians are in a dangerous place as they can become isolated and attacked by the enemy.


Charles Spurgeon famously stated: "Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in." Satan delights in seeing Christians isolated and feeling alone in the world. As we are still working our way through (hopefully the ends) of a pandemic, we should understand better than many who have come before us how important it is to be in community with one another.


Communicating through screens is a gift from God so that we can have some sort of connection with the world outside our door. But I wouldn't hesitate for a second to remind myself that to be in the same room with my dad and hug his neck is far better than to shoot him a text or FaceTime him with the kids. God created us for companionship both romantically with a one flesh union, as the pinnacle of human connection, and communally with other believers pursuing Christ together.


"Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. - Charles Spurgeon

Does Satan enjoy your habits when it comes to Christian fellowship or does he shutter at your growth in Christ as you not only worship God personally and privately but publicly in fellowship with others who are pushing back the darkness in this world and shining the light of God's glorious kingdom.


Worship in private and in community (Fellowship) are two disciplines that need to be prioritized and developed.


When it comes to prioritization, no one else can make that decision for you. When you look at the landscape of your life is there room for worship, public and private? Or is it something you get to if you feel conviction or if it's a religious occasion? I told our students that they need to capitilize on this time where their parents are encouraging and enforcing their attendance but that it isn't enough to settle for attendance. Your parents can prioritize your attendance but they can't prioritize your worship. I'm thankful for parents who are creating structure in their student's life to make church a priority, but prioritizing personal and communal worship is something that each of us must do in our own heart.


Your parents can prioritize your attendance but they can't prioritize your worship.

Finally, it must be developed. Just as we would not throw seeds into the ground cover them with some soil and point at it saying "now do something", we shouldn't expect growth in our personal and public worship if we do not water and nurture the process. Put yourself in position to be moved by God's spirit to worship him and to worship him in community with others. Will worship be a priority tomorrow and the next day? The day after that? Decide now, and develop that hunger for worship over a period of extended obedience.


Will we see you at church Sunday? I look forward to our time with great anticipation and expectation.




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