Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.—Romans 12:1

Years ago, at my previous church, we asked a certain man to serve as a Deacon.  Deacons were responsible for the physical care of the church facility, for administering our benevolence fund, for making the preparations to serve communion once a month, and for meeting various other practical needs of the church and its people, much like the Deacons and Deaconesses here at Community Church.

We asked this gentleman to serve because he was clearly someone who loved Jesus.  He was open and expressive about his faith.  He served on the worship team and had done some teaching in our men’s ministry.  Stepping into a formal role of leadership and service seemed like a natural fit.

But he turned up his nose at the idea.  He said he hated the thought of spending time focusing on budgets and schedules and menial tasks.  He had been a part of several healthy churches in his Christian life, but he said he had never once attended a church business meeting, and he had fond memories of a church from his younger days that didn’t seem to spend much time on those types of things and focused more on the “spiritual stuff.”

This is what I told him: “In every single church you’ve ever attended, someone was paying attention to the budget.  Someone was paying the bills, and someone was cleaning the bathrooms.  Someone was showing up early to fill the communion trays.  If those things weren’t happening, the church wouldn’t have been there at all for you to go and enjoy the ‘spiritual stuff.’”

I’ll admit that every once in a while I get jealous of people who just get to show up at church and receive.  A few times in my adult life, I’ve been on vacation and simply attended a church to worship, and I always marvel at how simple it is.  You just walk in, sing some songs, listen to the message, chat with a few people, and leave.  And some people get to do that every week!

Church is much different for those who serve in leadership.  Church is responsibility.  Church is stress.  Church is work.

But here’s the thing:  the Bible teaches that carrying responsibility, dealing with stress, and being willing to work hard are actually forms of worship.  In fact, the Bible uses the word “worship” in connection with those types of things more than it does with singing.  Singing songs to God is definitely worship, but it’s worship at its easiest and most enjoyable.  If we really want to worship God, we roll up our sleeves and we serve.  As Paul said in Romans 12, we “offer our bodies” to God.  Jesus showed His love for us by offering His whole self, and we love Him back by doing the same.

What this means is that every Sunday when we come to church, there is more worship going on than we’re aware of.  Yes, we’re all worshiping God in song.  But the worship team got there an hour and a half early to rehearse, and their sacrifice of time is worship.  Volunteers in our classrooms are worshiping by caring for our kids.  Before we arrived, someone set up the chairs and cleaned the bathrooms as an offering to God.  Someone sat in an office and paid bills; someone managed the event calendar; someone gave thought to what announcements needed to be made; someone prepared a sermon; someone made coffee.

And we do it with joy.  We do it because we love God and His people and His church.  We do it because Christ has given us His all and transformed us by His great love, and we want to love Him back.

In 2 Samuel 24, there is the story of a time when King David needed to offer a sacrifice to God on a specific piece of land, but the land was owned by someone else, a farmer named Araunah.  When Araunah learned that David needed his land, he offered to give it away for free, and even to give his own oxen for the offering, and his own farm equipment to provide the wood for the fire, because he loved his king and his country and his God.  But David refused.  This is what he said:

 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”—2 Samuel 24:24

David understood that true worship costs us something.  It is a sacrifice.  We worship by offering God something that is precious to us.  When we pay a price to worship, whether we’re giving up time or money or energy or comfort, we are saying that God is worthy, that He is more important to us than those other things.  We are offering God our whole selves, not just the “spiritual stuff.”  Whether we are cleaning bathrooms or balancing budgets or preaching a sermon, we worship God when we give Him what we have out of a desire to express our love to Him.  This week, how can you show love to God?  What can you offer Him as an act of worship?

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