A Response to God
We must first realize that in order to respond accurately to something, we must know what we are responding to, and why. In order to respond we need to know about the God we worship- who He is and what he has done for us. We need to form a strong foundation of sound theology. What we think about God is the most important thought we will ever think because it will determine every aspect or our lives. The decisions we make, our attitude, our relationships, and our response all originate from what we think about God. That is our core value and our identity. This is part of how we carry out the first part in the great commandment in Matthew 22:37. We love God with our minds by knowing about Him, knowing about His word, studying and discussing His word in the pursuit of His truth, and we pursue that with our all. We learn about His characteristics, His story, His purpose, as well as our purpose. This enables us to have an accurate response to Him and an accurate lifestyle of worship. The deeper we go in our knowledge of God the deeper our worship will be, and the greatness of God is infinite. When we realize that God is the only thing worthy of glory, and the only reason we even exist is ultimately for His glory, then we start to realize how huge and how vast our worship is, and how it fits into every single aspect of our lives. It’s a much bigger picture than music or words alone can begin to express. Therefore, our worship services need to reflect the truth and depth of the God we worship and go past the surface of our “seeker friendly” services. In this way we can give the “seekers” what they are looking for- truth, depth, purpose, community, identity, etc. In the words of Augustine, we were made for God and our hearts are restless until we find Him.
A Response to Others
This brings us to the second part in the great commandment in Matthew, loving our neighbors. A big part of how we display our love for God is how we display love to others because our love for God is the foundation of our love for others. We live a life of self-denial and suffering, as Christ did in the ultimate sacrifice of himself on the cross (so that we can even have the privilege of a relationship with God in the first place). This is why Christ tells us in Luke 9:23 to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. Notice that self-denial and death through taking up our cross precedes following him. Worship is ultimately about death through self-denial (dying to self, dying to our idols). Therefore worship ought to kill us. Which is why Paul says what he says in Romans 12:1, namely that we are to be “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. This is our spiritual act of worship.” Our whole life is a life of sacrifice and self-denial in an ultimate response to our Creator. Our self-denial and sacrifice for the sake of others is the greatest way in which we can display the love of God to our neighbors, both Christian and non-Christian. This is where we create genuine community in our worship and genuine care for our neighbors, and this plays a significant role in our corporate and congregational worship. What we do as a response to God and others will overflow to our congregations and therefore overflow into the world as we live out our true identity as the Church, the body of Christ, all working as one for a common goal of loving the world around us, for the glory of God.