As a former runner, I see a comparable relationship between running and worship. The first time you do each, its not always the most pleasant experience. While those in advanced stages have a different perspective, the novice may quit early on, claiming what’s the point. Trying to excel at each requires knowledge, preparation and training. During a church service last weekend, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to 3 stages of worship.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship, Romans 12:1.
Stage 1: Good
The apostle Paul encourages those who embrace the Christian faith to respond to God’s mercy. When your sins were pardoned, this should elicit a spirit of thankfulness within forgiven souls. As right and wrong acts are differentiated by the Bible, this exposure to truth hopefully fuels a fire within hearts to pursue holiness. This environment sets the scene to ignite and stoke a desire to worship. This is a good first step.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will, Romans 12:2.
Stage 2: Pleasing
If running or worship does not bring pleasure or a sense of progress, most will abandon the journey, filling their time with other worth while pursuits. Thus, Paul suggests the pattern of the world will become a distraction for many. Subsequently, finding pleasure in running or worship begins with a renewing of your mind. Just as Jesus went into the wilderness, fasting and praying before beginning his earthly ministry, worship is taken to the next level by believing and claiming God’s promises for your life. As the worries of life fade, your worship will please God as you bow down in holy reverence to your creator above.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Stage 3: Perfect
Human nature tends to lead people to rely on their own strength and abilities. Yet, perfection is not attainable in flesh alone. Rather, individuals need to come to a spiritual state where they recognize any weaknesses and lean on Christ’s power. The apostle Paul was forced into this predicament through an unknown physical ailment. While the Bible is not specific on his condition, God’s power is made perfect through weakness. Therefore, if you are struggling to concentrate as you run or worship, don’t run this race alone. Rather, cry out to the Lord for help and perhaps one day you will reach new levels as you worship God.
by Jay Mankus