In our Church family we recently completed seven weeks working through John van de Laar’s book, The Hour That Changes Everything. In it he calls us to understand and enjoy worship as the heart and centre of our lives. It is profound, yet it is simply written, and easy to read. He centres on William Temple’s definition of worship:
“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
The main part of the book comprises seven chapters, five of which expound on the quote: “Becoming Holy”, “Becoming True”, “Becoming Beautiful”, “Becoming Loving” and “Becoming Purposeful”. There are three appendices. The first contains fifty daily readings for personal use during the seven weeks (yes, for the mathematicians among you, the last week has eight readings). The second contains notes for small groups on each of the seven chapters, and the third section contains readings and guidelines for Sunday worship.
Van de Laar continually reminds us that worship is not something we do for an hour on Sunday, but it is the whole of our lives. The hour we spend together with the rest of God’s family, focussing our minds and sharpening the sword, is indeed the hour that changes everything, or it is nothing at all.
I received the following in an email this week, and it profoundly makes the same point. It was written by David Barnett, who I am told is a missionary in Cambodia. The interview he refers to is also the focus of a 2007 Christianity Today article.
Barnett heard about an interview between broadcaster Roy Firestone (ESPN’s Close-Up) and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, a seven-foot-tall, 255-pound specimen of pure muscle and athleticism. He was one of the best big men in the history of the National Basketball Association, who led his team to back-to-back championships and was named an All-Star 10 times.
He was also known as the hardest working big man in the NBA. Roy Firestone asked him, “Why do you work so hard? Your teammates tell me that every time you step onto the hard wood, you give it 110 percent. They tell me you practice spin moves and fade-away jump shots by the hour. They tell me you run wind sprints until you can’t anymore, relentlessly pushing yourself. They tell me that even in a scrimmage, you go for every rebound and every loose ball like you are in the finals of the NBA. Why? You don’t have anything to prove. You have made it to the top. Why not just take it easy?”
Hakeem said, “Roy, I do not count what I do on the basketball court as work. Every time I step onto that court, I am not playing for me, but for Him. You see, the reason I work so hard is because basketball is not work…it is worship. It is my way of thanking God for His goodness to me.”
Hakeem Olajuwon is a Muslim, not a Christian. Yet God has given him an insight into life-as-worship that challenges us all.
When David Barnett heard about Hakeem’s response, he thought:
“What if I treated my job, not as work, but as worship? What could I accomplish?
What if I treated my marriage, not as an obligation, but as worship?
What if I treated my parenthood, not as an activity, but as worship?
What if I treated my friendships, not merely as relationships, but as worship?
What if I treated my hobbies, not only as fun things to do, but as worship?
What if I treated community service, not just as a good thing to do to help others, but as worship?
What if I even drove my car, not merely as a way to get from here to there, but as worship?
What if I treated everything I do, everyone I meet, everything I say, as though it is an act of worship?
“How would that transform my life? What could I accomplish in my life? Who would I be able to touch and reach and attract to Christ?”
What about you and me? What difference would it make if, with David Barnett, we decided to approach the whole of our lives as worship, as a means of giving God thanks and praise? Even driving my car?
Have you any experiences of life-as-worship to share with us?
- God’s Creative Extravagance (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)
- Worship: Getting the heart right (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)