Extravagant in Worship
The word worship seems to have a variety of meanings today. For some, worship is a musical genre. For others, worship is the time in a church service where everyone sings songs of praise to God. For still others, worship is the whole of the church service and includes everything that takes place there.
In the Bible, the apostle Paul tells us to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1). Worship, then, is more than the acts usually associated with worship – it is the offering of our entire selves to God. Paul, however, not only tells us to do this but also tells us why we are to do it: "in view of God’s mercy." True worship is our response to God for who He is and what He has done.
So what about our acts of worship: singing, giving, attending to Scripture, communion, etc.? Are these unimportant? Not at all! These acts are still very important and we regularly participate in all of them at Westside. They are part of our response to God. But the acts of worship are to be a reflection of a life of worship, not simply things we do for an hour a week and then disregard until that same hour next week.
But why "extravagant"? Well, if worship is our response to God, then we ought to consider who God is and what God has done. The Bible tells us that God created everything in the universe, other than Himself. When humans, in trying to be like God, had broken their relationship with Him, God went to extraordinary means to restore that relationship. He chose a people with whom to have a special relationship in order to show the rest of the world what He was like. When this people constantly turned away from Him, He, in His mercy and love, sent judges, kings and prophets to remind them of who they were and who He is. Most of the time they didn’t respond well. But God, through His prophets, had given a promise to His people and He kept it. His promise was that He would send a Messiah, a Saviour, to once and for all show humanity what God was like and restore the broken relationship.
God sent Himself.
It is God’s giving of Himself to us in Jesus that we are responding to. How could our response be anything less than extravagant?
What does that extravagance look like at Westside? We want to give opportunity to those with artistic, musical, financial, service and technical gifts to inspire us to respond as a group, while we all learn to live lives of worship wherever we find ourselves during the week. As we continue to be people committed to responding to God, we believe He will give us creativity and imagination to allow us to worship in spirit and in truth.
John Chrysostom, ca. 4th century