Growing in Worship Through Life in the Body
Author: Stephanie Bennett
Growing in Worship Through Life in the Body by Stephanie Bennet Loving each other in a very practical, ongoing way is perhaps the most difficult thing to experience in a local gathering of believers. But you already knew that. What you might not know is that this love is one of the ways we worship God. It is quite easy to greet one another with a holy kiss, to speak of God's love, to teach of God's love, and to nurture the high calling of God's love deeply in our hearts. How difficult though, to really practice this love. To walk in it takes great grace and humility. In fact, it takes more dedication and worship to our Lord to walk in this love than most anything else we do! Loving one another in purity and practice is so difficult that its lack often propels dear believers into isolation, causing some to give up on the church because we fail each other so much. It is a love that so gutsy and strong, ---much more than most of us have to offer. The good news is that it brings us to our knees, and in our emptiness and lack we must cry, "Lord, we are desperate for You!" This is where worship comes in. When we offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice, what are we really offering Him? Surely our energies, time, passions, bodies, behavior, and relationships are part of the offering of our lives. We give Him our all! Paul encourages to daily and boldly approach the throne of grace, to offer all that we have to God, to die daily to those things that keep us from closeness with Him. Life in the body is a perfect opportunity for us to grow in worship. At every turn there are people with differences of opinion, practice, and ideas. Even if you are at peace with everyone in the local body, there are sure to be people who get under your skin for one reason or another. Either they donít appreciate us, they ignore us, they are antagonistic, or stubbornly refuse to get along. After all is said and done our part is to surrender our own needs and desires to God, and make sure that no offense exists between our brethren and us. This is an act of worship. There is no formula for this, there is no way to really learn it except to experience it. The Colossians were experiencing this love in the church; we can see it in Paulís greeting to them when he wrote: "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saintsÖ." (Col. 1:3-4) Surely it thrilled him when he received word of the Lord among the people in the churches he planted, because he knew that the Spirit of the Lord was in their midst. He knew that the call to Ďlove one another,í was a call to worship God, that it would take the surrendering of ourselves to God in order to be able to fulfill that command. Love among the brethren is not just a good idea. It is a sign, a testimony of the Presence of the Lord on the Earth. In the first century, love was the key differentiator of the first century church. In fact, the early Christians were able to turn the world upside down for Christ, spreading the message of salvation like wildfire because others could see the reality of the love of God in the way they fellowshipped with each other. Does this mean we never get angry with a brother or sister? Does it mean we never fail in our desire to love unconditionally, or to prefer one another in honor? Oh no, no. Certainly we fail time and again, but it is through the interaction in the Body of Christ, the ongoing, lasting, relationships between believers who work, pray, sing, and live shoulder to shoulder that the outworking and perfecting of this love is seen. In matters of sharing this love in the Body I have seen Godís faithfulness time and time again. In our weakness, His strength is manifest. The more we give ourselves to each other, staying open and honest, giving and receiving, supporting and caring, the more we grow as worshipers of the Living God. Yes, life in the Body of Christ is more than just a good idea. It is Godís intention for us on this earth and a major way that God works in our life to draw us deeper, closer, and more in touch with His life-giving Spirit.