And this is the message I proclaim– that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. (Romans 2:16 NLT)
For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people. (Romans 2:28-29 NLT)
How do you know if someone is worshiping God? I think it is possible to tell, but getting it right requires looking at someone’s life and not simply a single activity. The reason is that it is the attitude of the heart that matters much more than the activities performed.
If you begin reading books and blogs on worship, you’ll quickly discover that much of the discussion centers on the form or style of worship. The first difficulty I have with this is that the focus has been narrowed to the gathering on Sunday morning. The second difficulty is that much of the conversation centers around the liturgy that is being followed. Every congregation has a liturgy. A liturgy is the activities and their order that will be followed during the gathering. In the churches I’ve grown up in this involves singing, prayer, communion, offering, and a message followed by a closing song. Most people choose a congregation based on finding people and a liturgy they are comfortable with. The liturgy matters, but only to the extent that it encourages the participants to focus on God and acknowledge His rule over them.
I think the gathering has multiple objectives. One is to celebrate what God has been doing in the congregation’s life during the week. Another is to encourage the congregation to continue worshiping through the week by loving God and others. Another is to make God visible by the love that we show to one another when we gather. When the gathering is a bringing together of a group of people whose hearts are fully surrendered to God it can not help but be God honoring regardless of the activities and their order.
The main point of this chapter in Romans is that it is the secret life, the internal life of a person that matters. The end of this chapter caught my attention. Paul draws specific attention to where we should be looking for approval. If we are focused on pleasing God from our heart outward, then we will be genuine worshipers. If we are focused on pleasing people with our external actions regardless of the state of our heart, we will be worshiping those people rather than God. Our religious affiliation, spiritual practices, and professions of faith will not help us in our relationship with God if our heart is not given to Him.
For my grandchildren:
Live to please God.
Check out mygrandmatime for more Family Bible Activities on the book of Romans.