I had an interesting email exchange this week. A friend of mine is looking to move from an associate pastor position to the senior pastor position in another church. He was asking me about how it was, what my experience had been in my almost 4 years at Heritage Park, and what kind of "job satisfaction" (for lack of a better term) I was experiencing. After making a few reflections about my life, I told him that my job wasn't fun but that I got up every morning and looked forward to going to work.
And that e-conversation was what I was reminded of when I read 13.17. I recognize the unbelievable responsibility of shepherding people and watching over their spiritual well-being. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will stand before God and give an account for the how, what and why of my decisions and actions. Every time I stand to preach, I know that it is the aroma of Christ released from the Scriptures that will be death for some and life for others (2 Cor. 2). And that doesn't even include the actual leadership of an organization with budgets and buildings and so forth. I get the gravity of it all.
But there is great joy. I think about all the cool things we've seen God do in and through our church. I think about the people who have joined and had their lives turned around by Christ. I think of the laughter we've shared with (and at!) one another. I think about the memorable moments, poignant seconds and minutes that we don't forget. I think about the prayers we've shared, the meals we've shared, and the worship we've given to God together.
And that leads me to the previous two verses. In those, the author helps us see true worship. He frames the verses with the word sacrifice. First observation: if worship doesn't cost you something, you're probably not worshipping since you're not declaring the worth of God through your sacrifice. Second observation: worship has some components that we need to recognize.
Component #1: the fruit of our lips. We need to set our affections on God and let them come out in our words in prayers and songs and "Yes!" and so forth. That's pretty easy to do when you put words on a screen. But the question is do they come from your heart?
Component #2: doing good. We also worship when we do good in Jesus' name outside the walls, confines, relational circles, and general comfort of what we call the church. Serving, blessing, giving, loving, caring, praying - all ways to do good.
Component #3: sharing. This is apparently internally focused on the church. There's a sense in which we say to one another, "Whatever you need, I've got your back." It's our commitment to one another to do family as a church.
Worship is all of these. I wonder where I'm weakest or leaving one out.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...