The Greatest Act of Worship
If I were to ask you “what would the greatest worship event of all time look like?”, what would immediately come to mind?
Would it be some huge festival, an ocean of muddy tent-dwellers reaching for heaven, eyes closed and heart lost in adoration?
Music wrapping around the worshippers like a winter coat, a display of lights and sound that makes you realise just how beautiful it is to be in His presence, time standing still?
A worship leader who combines the insane and unfair multi-talents of Justin Timberlake with the humility of Mother Theresa? (And who crucially avoids playing that song you’ve heard in every church gathering since 2002 and now feels like a form of Christian-approved water torture).
While this sounds amazing and 100 percent the sort of thing I want to be a part of, it’s not the right answer.
The greatest worship event of all time took place on a grimy, desolate hill called Calvary.
There were no cheering crowds.
There was no sweet synth music to create “ambience”.
Just a man we know to be the Son of God, pouring out His blood, his last breath, his everything as a sacrifice for the people, and the Father, he loves.
One of my favourite verses on the topic of worship in the Bible is in Romans 12 :
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
The essence of this passage is “ take a look at the cross - the best kind of worship is just like that.”
Radically and preposterously generous.
It’s our goal to make our offerings of worship look as much like the cross as possible - as opposed to making them look as much like a Taylor Swift show as possible.
Maybe this sounds like it might be good theology, but you’re wondering what this actually means in real-life?
Worship happens when we put others needs ahead of our own, when we love the “unloveable”.
Worship happens when we give of our time, talents and money to the point where it hurts a little bit.
Worship happens by doing thankless tasks, unglamorous jobs and hard work for no reward.
We worship by finding a thousand little ways to carry our cross and lay down our lives for love’s sake.
Then, and only then, do we add the songs.
You might assume that music has absolutely no role in the story of the cross…but you’d be wrong.
Take a closer look at Jesus’ pained words from the cross:
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
These are not random expressions but rather quotations of lyrics from the Psalms - the worship playlist of His day.
In the most complete picture of worship that we’ll ever know, bloody sacrifice, obedience to the father and worship music come together in holy harmony upon the cross.
In its right place, worship music is the soundtrack that accompanies a life of beautiful obedience to God and service to others.
Worship is sacrifice and surrender.
Chris is a great friend of Soul Survivor and is the lead singer of Rend Collective. Together they have been leading worship at our summer festivals for many years now, and spend most of their time travelling around the world playing music. Chris and the band are based in Nashville, Tennessee, but are originally from Bangor in N.Ireland where the band was formed out of a local youth group. Their songs include ‘My Lighthouse’, ‘Nailed To The Cross’, ‘Rescuer’ and many more.