by Rick Warren
You were planned for God’s pleasure. The moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth. He wanted you alive, and your arrival gave Him great pleasure. God did not need to create you, but He chose to create you for His own enjoyment. You exist for His benefit, His glory, His purpose, and His delight.
Bringing enjoyment to God, living for His pleasure, is the first purpose of your life. When you fully understand this truth, you will never again have a problem with feeling insignificant. It proves your worth. If you are that important to God, and He considers you valuable enough to keep with Him for eternity, what greater significance could you have? The Bible says, “Because of His love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His children—this was His pleasure and purpose” (Eph. 1:5, tev).
We often forget that God has emotions, too. He feels things very deeply. The Bible tells us that God grieves, gets jealous and angry, and feels compassion, pity, sorrow, and sympathy—as well as happiness, gladness, and satisfaction. God loves, delights, gets pleasure, rejoices, enjoys, and even laughs! Bringing pleasure to God is called worship. The Bible says, “The Lord is pleased with those who worship Him and trust His love” (Ps. 147:11, cev). Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship. Like a diamond, worship is multifaceted. Anthropologists have noted that worship is a universal urge, hard-wired by God into the very fiber of our being—an in-built need to connect with God.
Worship is as natural as eating or breathing. If we fail to worship God, we always find a substitute, even if it ends up being ourselves. The reason God made us with this desire is that He desires worshipers! Jesus said, “The Father seeks worshipers” (John 4:23, paraphrased).
Depending on your church background, you probably need to expand your understanding of the real meaning of “worship.” You may think of church services with singing, praying, and listening to a sermon. Or you may think of ceremonies, candles, and communion. Worship can include these elements, but worship is far more than these expressions. Worship is a lifestyle.
Worship is more than music. For many people, worship is just a synonym for music. They say, “At our church we have the worship first, and then the teaching.” This is a big misunderstanding. Every part of a church service is an act of worship: praying, Scripture reading, singing, confession, silence, being still, listening to a sermon, taking notes, giving an offering, baptism, communion, signing a commitment card, and even greeting other worshipers.
Actually, worship predates music. Adam worshiped in the Garden of Eden, but music isn’t mentioned until Genesis 4:21 with the birth of Jubal. If worship were just music, then all who are nonmusical could never worship. Worship is far more than music.
Even worse, “worship” is often misused to refer to a particular style of music: “First we sang a hymn, then a praise and worship song.” Or “I like the fast praise songs but enjoy the slow worship songs most.” In this usage, if a song is fast or loud or uses brass instruments, it’s considered “praise.” But if it is slow and quiet and intimate, maybe accompanied by guitar, that’s worship. This is a common misuse of the term “worship.”
Worship has nothing to do with the style or volume or speed of a song. God loves all kinds of music because He invented it all—fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don’t like it all, but God does! If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship.
Christians often disagree over the style of music used in worship, passionately defending their preferred style as the most biblical or God-honoring. But there is no biblical style! There are no musical notes in the Bible; we don’t even have the instruments they used in Bible times. Frankly, the music style you like best says more about you—your background and personality—than it does about God. One ethnic group’s music can sound like noise to another. But God likes variety and enjoys it all.
There is no such thing as “Christian” music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes. If I played an unfamiliar song for you without the words, you’d have no way of knowing if it were a “Christian” song.
Worship is not for your benefit. As a pastor, I receive notes that say, “I loved the worship today. I got a lot out of it.” This is another misconception about worship. It isn’t for our benefit! We worship for God’s benefit. When we worship, our goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves.
If you have ever said, “I didn’t get anything out of worship today,” you worshiped for the wrong reason. Worship isn’t for you. It’s for God. Of course, most “worship” services also include elements of fellowship, edification and evangelism, and there are benefits to worship, but we don’t worship to please ourselves. Our motive is to bring glory and pleasure to our Creator.
Worship is not a part of your life; it is your life. It’s not just for church services. The Bible tells us to “worship Him continually” (Ps. 105:4, tev). Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God. The Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, niv). Martin Luther said, “A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God.”
How is it possible to do everything to the glory of God? By doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus and by carrying on a continual conversation with Him while you do it! The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23, niv).
This is the secret to a lifestyle of worship—doing everything as if I was doing it for Jesus. Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His presence.
More than 1,500 churches, in all 50 states, participated in a national pilot of a six-week spiritual growth emphasis called “40 Days of Purpose.” Based on Rick Warren’s latest book, The Purpose Driven Life, the campaign explains God’s five purposes for creating us, and involves having every member study weekly curricula in a small group or Sunday school class, read 40 daily devotionals, memorize a weekly Bible verse, and hear six weekend messages from their pastor on the same theme. For information on participating in the spring, 2003, worldwide campaign, see email@example.com. The Purpose Driven Life is available at Christian bookstores or at www.purposedrivenlife.com.