The Gospel Produces A Lifestyle of Christian Worship and Praise To God Even In Life Problems — Showing Us How To Deal With Stress
What is worship really? — specifically Christian worship? What does real praise to God mean? Can the gospel show us how to deal with stress? Can it show us how to deal with stress, sorrow, hurt, and even tragedy? Can the gospel make a difference in life problems? Can it help us in finding the purpose of life?
There are two ways to live the Christian life, especially when we experience life problems:
(1) in some form of laws, rules, principles and precepts, or
(2) in the gospel.
I’ve talked to a lot of people about their worship experience, and if their experience isn’t what it should be, when I pry deeper I always find they don’t have a true grasp of the gospel, and they are living under some form of precepts and principles. Gallop Polls says that a very high percentage of Christians live their lives like this, thus a very high percentage experience lack-luster worship. You cannot give true praise to God if you are living life this way. This is because your focus is on overcoming your life problems, and gaining a better life. Your focus not God.
What Is the Purpose of Life? Does the Gospel Help In This?
You cannot worship God in spirit and in truth, unless you live the gospel truth (John 4:24). And the best way to come into the purpose of life is to allow God to to be part of your life problems. God doesn’t always SOLVE all of our life problems, but he does SERVE us in our life problems. Giving praise to God IN our life problems (not FOR them, as you will see) can change the whole demeanor of life.
When you live in some form of precepts and principles, this puts the focus on YOU. What have you done, either good or bad? What should you do? What could you do better? What do you lack? — which comes from Jesus’ story of the ‘Rich Young Ruler’). What do you need to do to be better qualified to receive God’s promises, blessings and favor? These questions are all directed at YOU.
The gospel is God’s testimony, and God’s revelation. It is all directed at GOD, not at you.
The only requirement imposed upon us in the gospel is to believe it and receive it as life. When we do, worship and praise to God comes naturally. It’s not just something you do. It’s something you experience with God — that produces power and hope in you. Your thoughts are not on you and what you did, didn’t do, or should do. Your thoughts are on God, and what he has done for you in Christ. This causes worship to become automatic.
I picture the gospel as being like the Constitution of the Kingdom of God. It describes what the New Covenant is all about. In a very ’big picture,’ the gospel is (1) God’s unconditional agape LOVE, that (2) reveals the LIGHT of his truth, and thus (3) the abundant, Zoë LIFE of God in us. More
specifically, the gospel is being born again, but this is only entry level Christianity, as necessary as it is.
+ It is everything a loving Father has done for his kids in the cross of his Son.
+ It is all the free things God has given us, which is everything in his Kingdom.
+ It is the experience of the very presence of God himself, and his power and ability on this earth.
+ It is the revelation of our personal identity: who we are in Christ in this world.
+ It is the process for entering into God’s ways, means and will.
+ It is the vibrant, overcoming, conquering life of God in everything in life we can encounter.
+ It is God’s power in us that empowers us to forgive, love, and do everything else we should do, which includes dealing with stress, handling life problems, and entering into the purpose of life.
How To Praise God — How To Enter Into True Christian Worship
The gospel is the revelation that we have ALL of God’s forgiveness, favor, blessings, promises, and everything else that God’s Kingdom has to give us (Luke 12:32). ALL things are ours (I Cor 3:21-22). It is living in the reality of the gospel that changes our focus to God, so we can enter into true worship and praise to God. The gospel is meant to be the purpose of life. It is God’s gift to us for living this life ABUNDANTLY, as Jesus says. When we live it, God makes all things better (Rom 8:28).
Living the gospel produces real worship. You can’t hold it in. It flows from you. Worship is no longer something you DO, but it’s just part of who you ARE as a child, and son or daughter of both. Your focus is no longer totally focused on your life problems but instead they are on giving praise to God. It is the gospel that makes this life transformation in you. Do your life problems still exist? Yes! But does the gospel help you by showing you how to deal with stress in your life problems? Yes.
Knowing the gospel, receiving it and living it makes worship become the most powerful experience imaginable. Giving praise to God becomes a lifestyle. The following ‘digging deeper’ part of this will show that we don’t worship and give praise to God FOR our life problems, but IN our life problems. There is a big difference.
Just living in our life problems is meditating on the negative. This doesn’t lead us into how to deal with stress. But feeding our hearts on what God has done for us (THE GOSPEL) gives us God’s grace to endure things in life that are harmful and hurtful, and that we have no answers for. Disappointment and even doubt creep in if we only focus on what God hasn’t done, or on what isn’t happening in our lives. But when we focus on THE GOSPEL of what God has done, knowing that God loves us and that we love him, then everything changes for the better (Rom 8:28).
In Joshua 1:8, God tells Joshua: “This BOOK O F THE LAW shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate in it day and night . . .” This was under the Old Covenant. Today, in the New Covenant it reads like this: “This GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night.”
We must meditate on THE GOSPEL continually to truly live it and have it reign in us. This is what Paul means by being ’separated to the gospel’ (Rom 1:1). This is what Jesus means by repenting of everything else you’ve ever believed and believing the gospel (Mark 1:15).
What we tend to do when something bad happens in our lives is not to meditate on the gospel, but to meditate on the event. We meditate on the bad things that have happened. If good things have happened, we tend to worship God, but if bad things happen, we tend to complain, murmur and even separate ourselves from God, judging him for not loving us or treating us right.
This is pretty shallow living. What happens to us in life is indeed important to us, but it should not be the basis for our worship — our gratitude — our thanksgiving. The Ten Lepers were healed (Luke 17:12).
Jesus did something for ALL of them, but only ONE of them returned to tell him thanks, and we’re even told he was a Samaritan and not one of God’s chosen people.
Not everything in life is going to turn out as we want. Not everyone is going to be healed. Jesus promised we would have problems, not be kept from having problems (John 16:33), and that we’d be offended by other people (Luke 17:1). We are going to experience life problems. We are going to have to learn how to handle stress.
But our life condition is going to be measured by how well we give worship to God, and give praise to God in the midst of these unwanted, hurtful experiences. THE GOSPEL is designed by God to help us through our life problems.
Summarizing Two Keys We’ve Been Discussing
One major key to an abundant life of worship is to meditate on the gospel continually, and all of God’s grace and love that we experience because of the gospel.
The second major key to an abundant life of worship is not to let the natural things that happen in our lives (even as damaging and hurtful as they may be) determine whether or not we worshipGod. Paul says to thank God IN all things (I Thes 5:18). He doesn’t say we have to thank God FOR all things. But even in times of sorrow and grief we should worship God IN those times and IN those things. This is the purpose of life. This is how God’s power erupts in us in very unexpected ways.
Roger Himes, The Gospel Coach