Worship and Work

My friend Landon is in town. Landon is one of my closest friends. I played in a band called “Hyperbole” with him for many many years traveling the country. We worked together at the Los Angeles Dream Center, and he was a part of what we were doing in New York City.

The first sermon I ever gave was a tag-team message with him. We were a couple of 17 year old punk kids (he was much more punk than I) teaching a message at a youth group Battle of the Bands, about how the hypocrisy of the church doesn’t lessen the perfection of Christ. I suppose in many ways, I am still saying the same thing today.

I will always be against four walls Christianity. I don’t mind gathering, I think gathering is important, but it has to go beyond that. I loved yesterday, we were able to go across the street to Neinas and give kids starting school a backpack full of school supplies. Some of them were really nice, Frozen, Despicable Me, Hello Kitty themes, it was awesome… and those were just left over backpacks from the huge giveaway we did this summer in Clark Park when hundreds of kids got backpacks and a few of them got bikes. I love that stuff. That was what lead Christopher and his son Gabriel to come to our church.

I told you a while back, during the Intentions series, that the word hypocrite was a word used in Jesus’ day to describe a theater actor. Someone who puts on a show. Its a stage actor. It is where we get the phrase “wearing a mask” from because that was theater back then…. they would have to wear different masks to put themselves in different characters. So when people say “you are a hypocrite!” if they know what they are talking about, they are not necessarily saying “you say one thing, and do another.” as much as they are saying “you are being theater.”

or, “You are pretending.”

Whether you are pretending in here, or you are pretending out there, that is hypocrisy.

It is not when you “Don’t do what the bible says” or when you “sin.”

The church should be filled with broken people who screw things up. That is what its all about, it should be a hospital. A gathering of saints around the message of grace serving people out of our own brokenness because Jesus has done such a mighty work in our jacked up lives.

Because nobody gets it perfect. We are all learning and growing and our hearts are wrapping around the gospel in new and radical ways each time we approach it from a different angle. Because that is what the living word does to people. So our attempts at consistency in our believes, in my opinion, sometimes can get in the way of growth.

It is when we try so hard to stay consistent to what we have thought that it said, that maybe we will miss what it really says.

So we read words like hypocrite and we feel convicted because we don’t keep the bible perfectly so we think we can’t tell anybody else about it. But if you are doing that, you are letting the entire message of grace separate itself from your life.

If you live your live out there, and then come in here once a week and try clean the slate, worship Jesus, fall on your face before Him, and repent, just to go out there and get it dirty again out there, I think you are missing it.

and that cycle stems from a misunderstanding of what it actually means to worship Jesus.

But what I think people tend to do, is they separate this life, from that life.

You come to church, and to equip, and that is spiritual. and it saves you from the mess you made of your life all week.

You come in here to worship.

But then you go to work, and that is practical. You pay your bills. You have your friends. You have your world.

Maybe when you go to the marketplace, or you go to your homes, or you are working on school or on a project, that is practical.

That is who you are, when you aren’t here.

But when you come here, you put on your “spiritual self.”

And that makes sense, for a stage actor.

Except it doesn’t work.

You see, In Hebrew, the word for work is the word Avad.

and in Hebrew, the word for worship is the word Avad.

Work and worship are the exact same word. In Exodus 8:1 when Moses tells Pharaoh “Let my people go, so that they can worship me!” He said, “let my people go, so they can avad.

Some translations say: So they can worship.

Some translations say: So they can serve.

But they both mean the same thing.

When it refers to the Israelites as slaves, it is a similar word. They need to stop working for Pharaoh, so they can worship God.

Colossians 3:23-24 puts it this way:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Some people find it hard to find bible significance to their role in society throughout the week, when they should be approaching every day as worship to Jesus.

But what if you realized that the easiest and most sensible way to live a consistent life is to consistently make your life about worship. You are worshipping when you work. You are worshipping something. You don’t have to work at the church full time to make a full time impact for the gospel.

When we played in the band, we played in churches, and we played in clubs and bars. We played at festivals and we played at rally’s. Sometimes we shared the gospel, sometimes we just put on a concert and didn’t say a word about Jesus but man do all of us love him. And I think that showed in what we did. It was always about Jesus, even when it wasn’t.

What I mean by that, is He is why we did what we did, even if a specific song had nothing to do with Jesus necessarily, and what I know for a fact is that we had an impact on peoples lives whether or not we told them about Jesus personally.

I know that, because I know that the Jesus I worship with every facet of my life, holds the world in his hands. I know that, because Jesus has shown me, time and time again, that that He holds the world in his hands.

One day I was sitting in my pastors house in New York City. It was the first day with the new class of interns we had that year, and we were doing a meet and greet so the staff could meet all of the interns. We had I think it was 8 new students that year, and one of them came up to me said “Are you Jacob Bender?” and I said yes, I am.

Assuming that Jeremy, our intern director at the time, had told him to connect with me to work on creative stuff, videos, graphics, music, something like that.

But that was not why he was approaching me.

He shook my hand, and said to me, “My name is Greg. And I gave my life to Jesus at a Hyperbole concert in Flint, MI several years ago.”

I remembered that show. There was no altar call. There was no prayer. There was just a bunch of kids having a ton of fun dancing to pop punk music.

And the God that we were worshipping that day through fun music that didn’t really feel much like worship, Jesus, the God who holds the world in his hands, was orchestrating such an incredible moment where a teenager was coming to Jesus. A teenager that I did not know, but who would later come and do ministry along side me in New York City.

Because everything is spiritual.

Everything is worship.

That is just one story. I could tell you ten more. And I know in my heart their are hundreds more from our time together traveling that I will never hear. I never would have heard about Greg if he hadn’t come to New York. That one just came full circle in my life. Not every story will come full circle, but every moment matters. Because everything you do, is Avad.

God has placed you in specific places of influence that I will never be able to reach. God has specifically tailored all of our lives in unique ways to make an impact on the people who he knows need us.

That is what the Kingdom of God is all about. Its not about these walls. Its about the people we pass when we leave. Its about the people we bump into walking down the street. Its about the person who sits in the cubicle next to us every day in the office, and the people we have two minute conversations each morning as we begin our workday.

If we define ourselves by who we are because of what Jesus has done, not by what we do, then there will be a NATURAL consistency that goes from our hearts and minds and into our lives…

from our jobs

to our families

to our church community.

and they will see avad. They will see something different. They may not know what it is, but we do. It is worship.

And when we come to this place (the church), it should be a corporate continuation of our daily lives of worship. We should be walking with Jesus in everything we do.