“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -- Romans 12:1-2
As mentioned earlier, the shaping of my personal philosophy of worship was greatly impacted by the role my parents played and still do play in my life. Their leadership, guidance, patience, and love and has shown me what it means and looks like to offer your body as a living sacrifice to God.
As Romans indicates above, that worship is an offering of our whole selves to God in obedience to him and love for him. I have always found it interesting that Paul adds the precursor “by the mercies of God” to the beginning of this passage. I think what Paul is getting at here is that as God in his grace reveals himself to us we will then be able to offer ourselves as obedient sacrifices for his glory. Our act of “spiritual worship” as the King James Version words it, can only occur out of a response to the truth of who God is and what he has done in our lives. Taking it to the next step, Paul continues by basically saying, “Since God in his mercy has revealed this unbelievable truth to you, spend yourselves on it, be changed by it, become obsessed with it. You can now, through the power of the Holy Spirit, see the eternal merit of knowing God and being known by him and that far outweighs anything this world has to offer!”
As we continue to become overwhelmed by the truth of the wonderful, mysterious Gospel, we are then transformed back into what we were created to be, instruments of worship for our Almighty God. What I mean by this is that as we continually changed by His word, prayer, and fellowship with believers, and sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, we will be made into the image and mind of Christ. We will understand the original created order of things and that those things were given and made to instill within us worship. So food no longer is an end in itself but rather something that conjures up worship within us for a God who provides sustenance. So income or material possession is no longer an end in itself but rather something that conjures up worship within us for a God who meets our every need. The list literally continues throughout all things that were created by him. We get a clear picture of this revelation in 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16:
“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in Him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths for those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but does no one judge himself. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
I know that was a long passage, but the entire thing has helped me to understand the utmost eternal value of worship in our lives, and what a gift of crazy grace that God has given us minds and hearts as his children to understand that!
Other than scripture, there are a several authors and pastors that have greatly impacted my personal worship philosophy and me. One of which is Louie Giglio, who heads up Passion Conferences, which are arguably part of one of the biggest worship movements in history. My favorite quote from Giglio states, "But to mean it when I say that I want my life to count for His glory is to drive a stake through the heart of self - a painful and determined dying to me that must be a part of every day I live." Another influential author and pastor is John Piper. Piper has always been one of those guys whose books take me months to read. It’s like every sentence takes the most intelligent and focused parts of my brain engaging all at once to in order to bring about comprehension of the subject matter. One of my favorite Piper quotes reads, "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't." I love that. A.W. Tozer is another who has had huge impact on shaping my personal philosophy of worship. In one of my favorite of his many quotes he states, "I want the presence of God Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion...I want all that God has or I don't want any." The last individual I will mention is Rory Noland, author of “The Heart of the Artist”, “The Worshipping Artist”, and Worship Pastor for Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, IL. In a profound statement for me he writes, "What is it that God has given you to do well? Be grateful for that. While we're busy envying someone else's talents, we forget about what God has given us...Stop viewing yourself as one of the have-nots. It's not true. In God's eyes there are no have-nots."