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Active worship was just that -- there was a work assignment that was required of them -- required of us all per orders of the Lord Jesus Himself. We are assigned to Love God and Love People.
Idle Worship in the Church
Photo by James Barr / Unsplash

More than a Play on Words

This will probably not go the direction you're already thinking considering the title I chose. "Idle Worship" may be a play on words, but there's much more to it. Worship of our God should be anything but idle. And, if it is idle, I submit that worship has become an idol in and of itself, apart from God's divine purpose for mankind.

Dr. Michael S. Heiser recently wrote, "God could just speak out loud to all the people who need the gospel. But he doesn’t. Instead, he uses people—you and me—to get the job done.” I believe this is our assigned priority as members of the family of God, sons of the Most High.

Jesus, left His disciples with an assignment before ascending into heaven where He remains seated at the right hand of the Father. He commissioned them to walk in the fulness of their destiny, no longer struggling with their purpose or with unbelief or doubt, but taking what they had witnessed and learned by walking with the Master day after day and accomplishing God's purpose: To push back the powers of darkness by carrying the Light of Christ to the nations.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV / emphasis added)

In other words, the resurrected Lord commissioned them to actively worship Him by spreading the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. If you look closely at verse 17, it appears that they all worshiped Him but there were some of the eleven who doubted. Jesus addressed this fact without apology: Those who doubted and those who did not were given a task that was intended to be active worship ... spreading the Gospel. No doubt, the disciples understood that their doubt was not a concern and, if they had any doubt, carrying the message of the Gospel to the nations would minimize any doubt they may still have had. Doubt didn't disqualify the disciples from their evangelistic ministry. However, idle worship, it seems, would.

Jesus didn't bother to rebuke those who doubted. He assigned the task of spreading the Gospel to all who were with him -- all His disciples regardless of their level of faith. Throughout the Pauline letters and other epistles we see these disciples take on an apostolic role by spreading the Gospel, establishing churches, correcting theology, giving people hope based on their first-hand knowledge of the resurrected Christ. In other words, they grew in faith as they witnessed, spreading the Gospel under some of the most difficult circumstances known to mankind. Their acts of worship were anything but idle as they took the commission given to them by Jesus very seriously and with an attitude of unwavering and faithful worship.

My point in sharing this may ruffle some feathers but it needs to be said. Active worship was just that -- there was a work assignment that was required of them -- required of us all per orders of the Lord Jesus Himself. There were no flags waving. There were no bands. No microphones. No loud speakers. No drums. No choir. Nothing in the Great Commission was tied to worship in song (although that's not wrong by any means -- no one loves powerful worship music more than me). The point is, however, that if our worship does not include spreading the Gospel, then our worship is idle, without action, without obedience to the greatest commandment to Love God and Love People.

Worship without action becomes an idol, lifeless, dead and unproductive for the Kingdom, self-centered and self-consuming ... all about the emotions and feelings that music can produce. Our worship of the King begins with the Great Commission. If we're not actively engaged in evangelism, worship is a facade covering up a heart void of true love of others (see Matthew 22:37-40). We cannot say we love others if we aren't actively working to show them that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life. Jesus called His disciples to be "fishers of men" then He trained them and commissioned them to do the work of spreading the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth! If we're truly His disciples, that same commission broadcasts through the centuries to each of us with the same power and urgency ... that same mandate applies to us as well. The same powerful passion that grew in the hearts of the disciples for those who didn't know the Truth must become our most powerful passion which we cultivate and put into action as our ultimate sacrifice of worship. Spreading the Gospel to everyone, to the farthest corners of the earth, must become our highest and most urgent priority, our act of worship and our response to the Great Commission.

We are living in an age when the Body of Christ must be actively and powerfully engaged in evangelism, spreading the Gospel, imaging God's heart of pure and holy love to EVERYONE. We have been empowered by the Spirit of God at work in us and through us, by the victorious blood of the Lamb of God. Such empowerment literally enables us to fulfill the commission given to all who would follow Jesus as His disciples, including you and me. The Holy Spirit dwells within and leads us to encounters where the Gospel can be unashamedly and boldly proclaimed. Our love and concern should be the greatest toward those who do not know Christ including our enemies and/or those who persecute us.

We say we love the Lord with all our hearts, all our minds and all our strength. My question is this: What are we doing to demonstrate that love? How do we respond to Jesus' commission to ALL disciples including us? How are we fulfilling the Great Commission? Are we living a life of active worship? Or, has our worship become idle worship?

A believer's worship doesn't stop when the last song is sung. Worship for the obedient and committed believer should never be idle but, instead, should be a lifestyle of spreading the Gospel in holy, righteous and devoted obedience.