Bob Dylan was right, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
Centuries before Dylan, Moses knew the choice of masters was critical. His people, Israel, had lived as Egyptian slaves for four centuries, baking clay bricks from simple ingredients.
God had called Moses to lead Israel out of slavery. Part of God’s commission to Moses was the following:
This shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain. (Ex. 3:12)
In this verse, the word worship comes from the root abad, which means both “work” and “serve.” It is translated “serve” in several other verses, for instance:
You shall say to [Pharaoh], ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now. (Ex. 7:16)
The connection between worship and service is clear in Paul’s words to the Romans, where “service of worship” translates a single word, latreian.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Rom 12:1)
As we worship God we should remember that true adoration includes a willingness to sacrifice and it eventually finds expression in action. Worship leads to service. However, there is a danger:
We sometimes connect worship and service in an unhealthy way—they become a performance. Human nature likes easy formulae. If we can reduce our faith to a series of memorized steps (preferably in alphabetical order) it makes it less demanding. How convenient to be able to perform in the correct ways knowing that it will guarantee the results we seek. Much as we would like a recipe for relationship with God, “becoming a Christian might look more like falling in love than baking cookies.”1
Satan loves to enslave people. If he can ever-so-subtly turn our worship into a ritual or a duty then he has us headed back to Egypt—away from the Promised Land.
Slavery to a formula causes the lingering death of our relationship with the Lord. God wants our singing, our service, and our sacrificial giving to be acts of voluntary worship motivated by love of Him.
Worship overflows in service.
- Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What (Thomas Nelson Inc., 2004) p.155 [↩]