Peninsula Community Church
Worship in Action
November 10, 2013
Matthew 22:37-40 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
If we were to read the scriptures that precede this quote by Jesus, we see a tactic used by the religious leaders of Jesus time. It was a common tactic then and it is still a tactic that is used today. Rather than deal with truth, the religious leaders of Jesus day would use questions that were designed to trip Jesus up or cause confusion in His followers and those around them. They also wanted to get Him to say something they could use to discredit Him. What they were attempting to do was to exert their spiritual intelligence into spiritual issues when in fact the opposite was true, as evidenced by their lack of wisdom and Jesus’s answer to their questions. Why was this so? It was because Jesus was wise and was not about “gotcha moments” which the Pharisees relished.
Here in our story, “a lawyer,” asked Jesus the million dollar question of their day. What is the greatest command in the law? This was an ongoing debate among the religious scholars of the day. In fact, they would spend countless hours debating this question. For this reason, the lawyer considered it necessary to ask Jesus the question. As he asked the question, can you imagine the crowd pushing in to hear Jesus’s response? It was an EF Hutton moment. As the lawyer posed his question, it became apparent that the reason for this question was not a desire for truth but a hope that Christ would choose one law over another and one law as being more significant than the others. The goal was to use the answer Jesus gave against Him and to say that He did not hold to all of the law.
I do not believe the Pharisees nor the crowd anticipated or expected the simpleness of His response. Jesus replied You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
His answer was filled with wisdom and an exactness that only Jesus could give. By answering the way He did, Jesus ended the debate. He deflated the motivation behind the question. Notice that Jesus does not destroy the person asking the question, he simply and wisely answers the question being asked. Once again this was not a “gotcha moment” for Christ. The easiest answer of the day could be summed up in the idea that the greatest commandment is to love God and right behind it is the command to love others.
As we look at the issue of worship, we are reminded that all we are is worship. The passage before us once again speaks to a worship where we offer all we are to God. As we understand worship, we understand that worship is as much about who we are as it is what we do. For that reason, I would like for us to look at a couple of things this morning about doing worship. You see who we are should result in action. It is out of who we are that we react and act. Who we are will determine the validity of our worship.
First, worship is to be whole-hearted. As we are being transformed, we begin to give over to God everything that we have and all that we are. In our scripture text today, we find that Jesus makes the statement that sums up our life’s mission as passionate followers of Christ. He states “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first commandment.” Jesus understood that living our lives as passionate followers is not an act that is to be taken lightly. It involves our total being. This applies to our worship as well.
It is for this reason that Joshua in one of his last messages to the Children of Israel, commanded the people to choose whom they would serve. If they were to serve God, then serve God. If they were to serve other gods, then serve serve those gods. He is not condemning them, He was simply challenging them to make a decision. Listen to what Joshua instructed Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).
What Joshua was saying in essence was get in all the way. Don’t sit on the fence. In our culture, today, we have people who tend to be fence sitters. They are afraid to make a commitment as they are afraid of what the outcome might be. God however is calling us to make a choice and to get off the fence. He is calling us to stop wavering or waffling between two gods.
Jesus also emphasized this in the New Testament when he said that we cannot serve two masters. Notice what He said here. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).
Whole hearted worship means we give God everything. We also surrender all we have to God in worship. We don’t do it halfway. I remember as a child that my dad would ask me to do a project around the yard. If I were not too excited about it, I would quickly find a way to speed up the job or cut corners so I could get done early. The problem however is that I would not finish the job correctly and would most likely have to go back and do the job over again which took even more time and energy.
Second, worship is the yielding our hearts and minds. Notice in the passage before us that Jesus includes every aspect of who we are. While we worship from the heart, we do so with an intellectual understanding of who we worship. As we know the one who we worship better, which is an act of the intellect, we will worship Him more from the heart. The reason is that He will be trusted, and He will be understood. We will not fear Him in the sense that we avoid Him or run from Him.
If we do not know what or who we worship, we will worship anything or anyone. We will become wishy washy or as James said, we will be double-minded in all that we do. We will be tempted to worship the next best thing that comes along rather than trusting in God for His will to be accomplished.
While our hearts must be engaged, we must engage our intellect so that we understand the purpose and reason why we do what we do. In so doing, we must yield our hearts and minds to worship.
Worship is a physical act. While worship is an act of the heart, worship is expressed through the physical being. We raise our voices, we lift our hands, we engage those around us. Worship is something we do. It is an outward expression of who we are and what we have become. I challenge you to read the scripture to see all the outward expressions of worship that are listed.
Worship flows out of our transformed life. True worship flows out of the work that has been accomplished in us. How can we not worship him when we recognize all that he has accomplished on our behalf? When we are transformed our worship is changed. We begin to focus our whole being in worship. We can then worship freely without fear and without reservation.
So are you giving Him everything today or you holding back? It is your choice.