EULESS, Texas (BP)–As our families go to church, we enter into the “worship center.” We then hear a message about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to a world that doesn’t know him. This kind of message is classically called an “evangelistic” message. We then leave the worship center and proceed to share the good news with those in our community.
This scenario represents a common custom among our churches. But I want to raise one question that many have already realized: Did the worship end when we left the “worship center?” And, when we tell people about Jesus, is this considered “worship?”
I want to answer these questions by pointing us to the Scriptures. Romans 12:1 defines a lifestyle of worship and evangelism, a marriage of two fundamentals of our faith. In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul explains of God’s goodness, our sinfulness and Christ’s redemptive work, bringing us into a right relationship with God. In chapter 12, Paul brings worship and evangelism together in a beautiful image of sacrifice. He states, “I urge you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s great mercies, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship/service.”
What is the difference between worship and evangelism? Is there any difference? What does the Scripture teach in this passage?
The Scripture reveals this truth: Worship and evangelism go hand in hand. Paul reminds us that as Christians we should lay our lives down as living sacrifices. Laying our lives down as living sacrifices means that we give God complete control of our lives. We give our agendas, devote our calendars and offer our desires to our Master. When we offer our lives to God, we will experience the union of worship and evangelism.
How is this possible? The last word in the verse can be translated “worship,” or “service.” In our Bibles, we see both words translated here. I think Paul knew well the connotations of the words he used, and as he employed this word at this time, he conveyed this truth: When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we will necessarily worship God and serve him. Both actions in union together honor the Master. It’s not one or the other. It’s not one without the other. When we are living sacrifices, we will necessarily worship God and serve him.
This is a key reality for our families: during the week, let’s not compartmentalize our faith. Let’s remember that we go to church as living sacrifices: to express what God has done for us, to grow in our faith and to be encouraged to tell others about Jesus.
When we worship God in this way, church does not amount to dull, meaningless ritual. Likewise, when we evangelize, or tell others about Jesus, we are living sacrifices, worshiping God in our service to him.
In our families, we must refuse an “either/or” mentality toward worship or evangelism. Instead, our families must learn to offer themselves as living sacrifices. As we lay down our lives, we will experience the union of worship and evangelism, and in this beautiful marriage, we will find fulfillment and growth in our faith.
Thomas is pastor of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas. For more of his resources on worship, visit Lifepoints at www.firstonthe.net.