Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Really? Every day?

{photo credit}

Recently, while helping out with Middle School Youth group, the pastor gave a talk on our personal relationship with Jesus. He brought up the acronym NADA, meaning: Need Him, Ask Him, Defer to Him, and Appreciate Him. That particular night, we focused a lot on the idea of Appreciation of God for the works in our lives. Many times, this is often relayed as the idea of ‘worshipping the Lord at all times’. For me, this topic gave me quite a lot to ruminate over as the idea of worshipping God, all day {at all times} seemed exhausting, and perhaps over the top. Wouldn’t the appreciation eventually lose its potency after a couple days? Wouldn’t it become a task and chore more than praise and worship?

The problem with my understanding in ‘worshipping the Lord at all times’ really began with the fact that I saw worship mainly as singing songs of praise and worship. When I recalled the idea of worship, I immediately conjured up ideas of Sunday Services and praise and worship music. My immediate response to this idea of worshipping God in everything that I do, was ‘I love praise music, but enough to sing/listen to it all day,’ and ‘I can’t pray all the time, I need to be focused and concentrate on my work and the tasks at hand!’ It seemed like an implausible feat outside of chucking it all and becoming a modern day anchorite like Julian of Norwich. To my dismay, I felt as though I had fallen into a trap that I feel plagues many Christians in this day and age and that is that singing songs of praise, and lifting up in prayer has become the default form of worship. I am, by no means, criticizing these forms of worship, however, I do find that they can be site specific and cannot, in my life, be realistically sustained for hours or days at a time. It was at this point, I realized that perhaps I needed to go back to the drawing board to truly understand the concept of worship. I thought about the true meaning of worship – honor and veneration of God, and how, in my own life, I had limited that to songs of praise and prayer. Quite honestly, I came to realize, if the essence of worship is honor and respect, then it follows that it should be completely plausible to find ways to incorporate worship and praise into my day to day life; what it boils down to is intent. Eventually, I came up with two ways I can honor God in the day to day: respecting myself and respecting the environment.

I can live a healthy life for myself, which is fine, or I can choose live it with the intention of glorifying God and respecting the creation that is my body and my life. I think that to say,” Lord I am grateful for how and what you made me, and I honor that by making the best choices to maintain what you have created,” is indeed a form of worship and praise.

So what does this look like in my life?

I can treat my body kindly by giving it all that it requires, and not all that I desire. (i.e. eating healthy, exercising, engaging in my environment, etc.)
I can refrain from putting myself down, comparing myself to others, telling myself every morning that I’m fat, look like a ‘hot mess’ or coming down on myself because I don’t have it all ‘together.’

In the same way, we can also worship God by being better stewards of our environment.
Dr. J. Patrick Dobel wrote an inspiring article entitled: “Stewards of the Earth’s Resources: A Christian Response to Ecology,”
{here} and his thoughts on the ‘Stewardship Imperative’ mirrors what, I feel, can be considered a new Christian paradigm for living in daily praise through stewardship:

The New Testament distills these notions and adds a strong activist imperative with its account of stewardship. This activist element is a vital alternative to some of the more extreme ethical positions in reactionary ecological ethics. The parable of the good steward in Luke 12:41-48 and the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 summarize the concept. The preservation of what is given “in trust” demands a recognition of the owner’s dictates for the resources. We must know the limits and laws of the world in order to use them wisely. Our actions must be guided, in part, by concerns for future generations. Above all, we must never knowingly exhaust or ruin what has been given to us. If doing so is absolutely necessary to sustain life, then equity demands that we must leave some equally accessible and beneficial legacy to replace what has been exhausted.
But there is more involved in being a “faithful and wise steward.” Even the most conservative banker is obliged to improve the stock for the benefit of the heirs. The parable of the talents makes it abundantly clear that we who are entrusted with his property will be called to account for our obligation to improve the earth. The stewardship imperative assumes that the moral and ecological constraints are respected, and it adds the obligation to distribute the benefits justly. The steward must “give them their portion of the food at the proper time.” Mistreating his charges, gorging himself on the resources in excess consumption, and not caring for the resources will all cause the stewards to be “cut off.” True stewardship requires both respect for the trusteeship and covenanted imperatives and an active effort to improve the land for the future and to use it in a manner to benefit others. Ethical proportionality applies to all those responsible for the earth, for “when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him” (Luke 12:48-49).”

Again, it comes back to intent; we are able to worship God by being faithful stewards of the earth and preserving what we have been given. With the intent that each moment you treat our world with respect and consideration you do so as an exaltation and honor to God for what has been provided we are then able to praise and worship God on a moment by moment basis. Can you imagine how this could ultimately expand our paradigm of praise and worship? Realistically, I feel this was always a part of God’s plan for us, living our lives in honor of Him thereby directly resulting in sustaining the world and each other.

Could you imagine that by simply worshiping and praising God every day, you could end up loving who you are more, and preserving this earth for generations to come?

How could I NOT do this? How could I find any justification NOT to worship God in this way? When I think about what a life lived with the intention of constantly praising God could look like, I get so excited, and I wonder, why have I never considered this sooner?

Well, better late than never right?

Sidenote: If you have the time, I would encourage you to read another article on "Stewards of the Earth" {here}

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