This evening I went to a Christian worship event, or gig, or concert or whatever you might want to call it. However, it wasn't merely me going to listen to good music (although that happened), it was also a time to join together with others to worship God.
I went to see Rend Collective Experiment and Matt Redman and when I say with others I mean about 2000 others...it was immense.
I think in those types of contexts its really easy to just be singing along because you know the words to the songs and because it's what everyone surrounding you is doing.
But this evening it was different. One of the members of Rend Collective used a phrase that made me stop and assess what I was doing. He said "I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which cost me nothing"; he was saying it in the context of as we stood there worshipping it shouldn't just be an "us singing to God" time, it should be an "us bringing ourselves before God" time. Desiring to be changed.
That phrase that he used is from a story in the Bible of when David had made a bad choice and how God had sent a plague as punishment - he told David to build an altar on another man's land to stop the plague. So David went to the owners and asked to buy the land. However, the owner, knowing David was the King just offered it to him for free and offered oxen to be burnt on it too. But David knew it was important to follow God's instructions completely because the fault was his. and so he said - “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” You can read the full story here
How does that fit with my experience today? Well thankfully because of Jesus' death on the cross, God no longer requires an actual sacrifice on an altar...Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. But when I come and sing to him (or sacrifice worship) so often I am just singing out of habit rather than desiring to enter in to intimacy with the holy God. I don't acknowledge to him the areas where I need him to change me. I bring a sacrifice that ultimately is free to me - I go away not having paid anything.
Worship so often is just understood as singing songs at Church - "the worship time" or "worship group", rather than being a way of life. I want my entire life to be worship to God. My thoughts, my deeds, my words...I want God to take all of it as worship. But it's very easy to just mosey along and not make decisions to sacrificially bless people, or speak about Jesus. These are things that cost.
I don't want to get all legalistic about this but it's just something that struck me this evening. I want to be someone who is willing to sacrifice to God, including the cost. I don't want to come out of Church tomorrow and be like "that was a nice service" I want to meet with God and let him change me! Ultimately that means I need to be more open and honest with him; it also means it might hurt as he deals with things in my life and makes me more like him.
Sacrifice/worship costs something. But just as David experienced God's grace and mercy, I know I will too. I serve and praise the same God who delights in the worship of his people. I want my worship to be acceptable to him.