Our Work Is Our Worship

For the last few months at the Colson Center, we’ve been doing a Q&A feature on our podcast. Each Wednesday, Shane Morris and I field questions from our readers and listeners about all sorts of topics. But once in a while we get a question that deserves a full BreakPoint in response.

Recently, a woman wrote in asking how she can know that she’s really worshipping God. “For years,” she explains, “attending church meant singing in the choir, playing bells, women’s Bible study, organizing funeral dinners, cleaning the church, making banners…now I’m in my mid 70s and all those things are not on my list anymore and I’m wondering: have I really been worshipping God all these years or was it just busy work? And how do we know if we are worshipping when we are sitting in church? Sorry to bother you but I’m locked in my house and my resources are limited.”

First of all, what an outstanding question. To this listener: Your heart for the Lord and for His people is obvious, and it sounds like you have years of faithful, humble service behind you. Don’t doubt for a moment that your work—whether in corporate worship, or feeding the congregation, or helping them grieve, celebrate, or just enjoy a beautiful space has been anything but precious in God’s sight. Nor are you likely to know this side of eternity the kind of impact you had on the lives of your fellow worshippers.

Our culture teaches us to admire dramatic, heroic acts—the kind that make headlines and exciting movies. But I think if there’s anyone sure to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” it’s those like this listener, whose mundane, often unnoticed acts of love for the church span decades. “Busywork” has nothing to do with it. A life spent this way is more like, a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.”

Now, I understand there’s more to this question. It sounds like this listener’s time in church services has been put on hold because of COVID. How does someone who is no longer able to serve God’s people in obvious ways continue to worship Him?

The answer really gets to the heart of what serving and worshipping God means. We have this deeply ingrained instinct that a higher calling must be dramatic, marked by speeches, battles, cures for diseases or passing historic legislation. But I’m convinced that the bulk of really world-changing work is done by ordinary people who will never make headlines, living faithful lives where God had placed them. They’re the ones who really shape cultures and ultimately, eternity. Most importantly, their worship is pleasing to God.

Remember the story of the Widow’s Mite? All of the rich dumped bags of gold into the temple coffer. The woman who had barely two copper coins to rub together? She dropped them both in. And Jesus said she out-gave them all.

The point is clear: The God who owns everything and has all power doesn’t need our resources, and He’s not impressed by our resumes. He’s mainly interested in our faithfulness and our sincerity. And that’s good news, because it means we can truly worship and glorify Him wherever we are and no matter how humble our circumstances.

Look, I get it. It’s tough when your mission field shrinks. Every CEO who retires feels that letdown. Every mom whose child goes off to college wonders, “What now?” The point is that God doesn’t need us to do “great things” for Him. He wants us to do the right thing no matter where we are.

Sweep the floor, make the bed, do the dishes, put food on the table, meditate on Scripture—maybe invite that neighbor no one ever talks with to join you. In all of these circumstances, it isn’t so much what you do, but the Person for whom you do it that matters.

Our listener is right to see being in church as a priority. If at all possible and prudent, we should be with God’s people and serve wherever we can. But though the worship we give Him on Sunday is central, Scripture is clear that everything done well to God’s glory is also a spiritual act of worship. It’s also clear that acts the world sees as having little value can be priceless in God’s sight.

So, to our questioner: Keep up the good work, to the glory of God, wherever you find yourself, and you’ll truly be worshipping. To the rest of our listeners: find someone like this woman and start taking notes. 

And please join me and Shane every Wednesday on the BreakPoint Podcast, where we take and respond to readers’ questions.

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