When the Music Fades (Part 1)
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying God; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart
We’ve sung this song for years. It’s been echoed in congregations around the world. We cry out for God to bring us back to the heart of worship and genuinely apologize for what we’ve made it. But, what is the heart of worship? And how do we get back there? Is it simply singing songs and making sure to make it all about Him? What about when the song is over? How does the heart of worship translate into a life of worship? A worship that carries on beyond the music and the dimming of the stage lights. In theory, we all want it right? A life of worship is what we all desire to end up with. Yet the question still remains of how we get there. Well Friends, before we can talk about where a life of worship ends, we must first talk about where a life of worship begins.
One Sabbath, after Paul and Barnabas had ministered in Antioch, nearly the whole city had gathered to hear them preach the word of God again. The Jews became upset and began to cause disruptions amongst the people and blaspheme the scriptures. Paul and Barnabas turned to them and said that since they refuse the gospel of Jesus Christ, that God was now going to offer it to the Gentiles in order that they may be saved as well. When the Gentiles heard that they could now be a part of the family of God it changed their lives. There reaction was immediate. As soon as they heard, they worshipped. You see, the Gentiles knew their deficit. They knew the magnitude of the thing in which they had previously been excluded from. They knew that they weren’t worthy and did nothing to deserve to be grafted into an intimate relationship with God. They knew it, they valued it and they were grateful. So they worshipped.
You want to know where a life of worship begins? It begins in our deficit. It begins in our lack and insufficiency. It begins with us remembering that we too, “were at one time separate from Christ, excluded from the common wealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”(Eph. 2:12). Friends, pay attention again to those words Paul uses to describe you and I:
Separate (from God)
Excluded (from His blessings)
Strangers (to His promise)
Having no hope
That’s a harsh list and it’s an even harsher reality. But it’s ours. It’s where we were. It’s where our sin left us. We had absolutely no chance of hope before Christ. We were totally without God. Think about that for a second. Imagine your life totally separate from even the option of God and all that He is. Imagine yourself with no access to His promise-filled love. Imagine yourself navigating through this pain-stricken world without an Almighty God by your side. How different would your life look? How damning your circumstances if there were no hope to be found? Now imagine that something comes in and suddenly changes everything. A glimmer of hope is thrown your way and a light begins to shine in what was once hopelessly filled with darkness.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who were formerly far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are now fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household…” (Eph. 3:13,19)
Friends, Christ came and our descriptors totally changed. Through Him we are now:
No longer strangers and aliens
Citizens with the Saints
In God’s household
Now, is that not something to worship about? Should that not ignite us in worship just like it did for the Gentiles in Acts? The life of hopelessness that was once guaranteed for us, has now had all of its power stripped away forever. The life of mandatory separation from a loving God is now able to turn into a life of intimacy with the One for whom our souls were created. Our deficit has been removed! There is no more distance between us and Him and we now have access to everything we could possibly ever need. You see, through Christ, God gave us grace. And grace gave us options. Options to not live in despair. Options to not stay where we were. Options for life and life more abundantly.
That is what the Gentiles in Acts understood. That’s why they worshipped and surrendered their lives to Him. You see, a life of worship begins as a result of us recognizing who God is and who we are in relation to Him, and then realizing that grace bridges that gap. It’s us knowing where we came from and understanding what we are being invited into. You see, it’s when we realize this, that a life of worship becomes an honor and not a task. Surrender to Him becomes a little easier and gratitude towards Him becomes a lot greater. That’s where we begin. Friends, I honestly believe that our lives will not resound with worship, until our hearts first resound with gratefulness. We must first remember the debt, and then allow that to fuel our devotion.
Questions to Journal Through:
When is the last time you reflected on everything you have been granted in Christ and allowed that to influence how you live your life?
Spend some time today thinking through His grace in your life. Make a list of where your life would be without Him. And write out a prayer of gratitude to Him.