Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1:27
It’s become somewhat of a buzz-phrase in church circles lately, “Worship is a lifestyle”. The point of the phrase is obvious: don’t relegate your idea of “worship” to simply singing a few songs in a church service, but rather, understand that everything we do is, in essence, “worship”. Every dollar we spend, every hour we commit, every reaction we display, all of it is pointing to someone or something that is our highest glory and greatest treasure. Furthermore, as we read the Bible we find this common thread woven through its pages, that the whole reason we even exist is to bring glory to our Creator and enjoy His presence in doing so. We were created to worship.
Think about it then. If we were created for a specific purpose, then it follows that the directions given to us by the Creator would naturally be designed to lead us in to that purpose. These are the stories, principles, commands and laws found in Scripture. These are the signposts along the road to lead us to our destiny. In fact, one could even say that if you took all of those factors and put them together, you might get… a religion.
Now before you start quoting “it’s about relationship, not religion” and tune me out, think about marriage with me for a moment. Even though marriage is at its core about a “relationship”, there are still specific guidelines, even rules that you have to have in place to make it work right. The whole point of the covenant of “marriage” is that you are taking an abstract feeling and anchoring it in a specific set of commitments (“I will have no other lovers before you”, “I will sacrifice my life for you”, “My assets are your assets”, etc.). You can have a relationship without rules if you want, but it’s definitely NOT marriage.
In the same way, even though the word “religion” has earned itself plenty of negative overtones because of its longstanding association with legalism and dead ritual, at its core, the whole idea of it is that we can have plenty of nice feelings and ideas about God if we want to, we can even call it a “relationship”, but without an anchor of specific commitments, our interaction with God may be a type of relationship, but it’s definitely not a serious one. In its truest form, Christian “religion” is not so much a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather, a set of our promises to be faithful to our relationship with God.
We were created to worship God in the joy of a relationship with Him, but when “religion” becomes just a set of rules that we follow dogmatically in fear, then we aren’t really worshiping God the way He desires, are we? In fact, one could argue that we’re more likely worshiping the rules, rather than the One who gave them to us. True worship, and true joy, comes when we begin to see God’s commands not as an end in themselves, but as tools for our benefit, so that we will know the ways we can show God we love Him, as the foundation of a rich relationship with Him, and as the pathway to a full life of worship to Him.
This week, think about how you can “worship” God by following His Word. Think about how you can show Him you actually take this “relationship” seriously. Don’t just invent things to do that you think will make Him happy because you’re supposed to; let His Word be your guide to the right ways to show Him you love Him. Live a lifestyle of worship by properly nurturing this, the most important relationship of all.