Last week we started out Acrostic word W.O.R.S.H.I.P with Witness. We discussed how, witnessing is worship but also, our worship is also witnessing. Indeed, witnessing is incredibly important to our daily worship.
This week we will discuss how OBEDIENCE is Worship.
In the Bible, there are many stories of obedience and disobedience. Some people chose to follow God wholeheartedly while others did not. A person that comes to mind is Jonah. Jonah, a prophet, was called to deliver a message of repentance to the Ninevites. The people of the Great City of Nineveh were very sinful. So, God commanded Jonah to go to them and tell them a message of repentance.
Jonah was not a fan of this calling. Therefore, Jonah was not obedient. He had his own agenda.
Many of us have heard the next part of the story. Immediately, Jonah paid some money for a ticket on a ship that was headed in the opposite direction of Nineveh; Jonah fled to Tarshish. Jonah wanted nothing to do with this responsibility. Tarshish was an amazing place. For a modern comparison, going to Tarshish was like going to Disney World rather than going to some place you dread going to. We all have our own version of Nineveh and Tarshish.
Next, God caused a great storm on Jonah’s journey to Tarshish. This storm was so intense that even the experienced sailors were shaken with fear. It even broke their ship!
The sailors all pleaded with their gods to calm the storm, but nothing was working. Jonah admitted to them that he was Hebrew and that He was on the ship to run away from his God. As soon as the sailors came to realize that this storm was caused by Hebrew God Yahweh, the one true God, they turned from their gods and claimed that Yahweh was the one true God who was now in control of their lives:
14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. (Jonah, 1:14-16, ESV)
Then we discover that Jonah was dumped off the boat and wrestled with the intense sea. Miraculously, Jonah ended up inside the belly of a whale where Jonah lives for three days and three nights. This is where Jonah realizes God is still pursuing him even in his intense disobedience.
Here in chapter three, Jonah is given a second chance to follow God’s commands to go preach to Nineveh. This is Jonah’s new beginning. This time, Jonah obeys God’s command and goes straight to Nineveh. As Jonah preached and prophesied, the people of Nineveh believe him and repented of their wicked ways.
In Jonah’s journey, God redeems the sailors, Jonah, and the Ninevites even through Jonah’s disobedience and obedience. God’s redemption plan was still accomplished.
The point of the story is not that Jonah miraculously survived living in a whale for three days. It is not that Jonah was disobedient (bad) and the obedient (good), the point of the story is that God was with Jonah the entire time. Jonah believed that he could outrun God’s presence, but we discover that is not possible. God is with us always whether we are obedient or disobedient.
God is not testing us to see what right or wrong decisions we make. Yes, there is right and wrong decisions that have consequences, but the point of Jonah is that God is not assigning us to be obedient on our own; God is inviting us to a life of obedience alongside Him. He is inviting us to be a part of His beautiful reconciliation of His creation. He is not going to leave us alone when He calls us to do something.
When we are obedient, we are worshipping God because it shows Him that we truly love Him. Obedience is an outward expression of respect and love. When we obey our parents, teacher, siblings, elders, mentors, we are showing them that we respect, trust, and love them. A loving relationship is a partnership. God is wanting to partner with you to accomplish His redemption plan with you. Remember, God promises to “never leave or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV)
I challenge you this week to live a life of obedience. God is with you through it all no matter the circumstances. I pray you have the attitude of David in Psalm 119,
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart. (Psalm 119:33-34, ESV)
Why is obedience worship? Because it shows you truly love God. Jesus said this, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, ESV)
Think about these questions this week:
- How do we discern when God telling you to do something?
- Can you think of times where you only displayed partial obedience to God?
- How does your attitude or heart change when you think of obedience as worship?