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Is All of Life Worship?

By Kevin Kay.

That’s what some are saying. In his book, Unbroken Bread, Mike Root says: "Worship is a life given in obedience to God. It’s not a when or where proposition, but a ‘what’. It’s what we are. You can’t go to it or leave it, dress for it or from it, and you can’t start it or stop it... it doesn’t open and close with a prayer, and it doesn’t have human leader or a special day" (115).

Appealing To the Scripture

The New Testament clearly teaches that a Christian is to present his body as "a living sacrifice" to God (Romans 12:1-2) and do everything in the name of the Lord (Col 3:17) and to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). It is also true that a Christian can and should worship God apart from those times when the church assembles together (Acts 16:25; Heb. 13:15). Does this mean, however, that all of life is worship?

Just a few examples in the Bible clearly illustrate that all of life is not worship. Abraham told his servants that he and Isaac would "go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you" (Gen. 22:5). God told Moses to "come up to the Lord ... and worship from afar" (Ex. 24:1). After the death of his son, David "went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house ..." (2 Sam. 12:20). The wise men came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus (Matt. 2:2) and when they found him, they "fell down and worshiped Him" (Matt. 2:11). John "fell at his feet to worship" the angel (Rev. 19:10; 22:8). The Bible clearly teaches that worship has a beginning point (Matt. 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 28:9,17; Mark 5:6; John 9:38; Heb. 11:21) and an ending point (Luke 24:52) and that worship does involve a "when" and a "where" (John 12:20; Acts 8:27; 24:11).

In light of this kind of evidence, from where does this "all-of-life-is-worship" concept come? The proponents of this concept hang their hat on Paul’s statement: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1, NASB; cf. ESV, NIV, NRSV). Other translations say "which is your reasonable service" (KJV, NKJV) or "which is your spiritual service" (ASV). Although the original word translated "spiritual service of worship" (latreia) can refer to worship (Romans 9:4; Heb. 9:1, 6), it more generally refers to service (John 16:2; Luke 1:74). In fact, the verb form (latreuo) is contrasted with the usual word for "worship" (proskuneo) (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Romans 1:25), suggesting a difference between the two. This evidence indicates that while all of life is service, not all of life is worship.

What Is Behind the All-Of-Life-Is-Worship Concept?

  1. Informality. Of the assembly in Troas (Acts 20:7), Mike Root says: "This ‘first day of the week assembly was as unstructured and informal as an unplanned reunion of college friends" (Spilt Grape Juice, pp. 50-51). Who says so? Luke certainly doesn’t say anything like that, and since Paul taught the same things in all the churches (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17), there is every reason to believe that the assembly in Troas followed the principles of decorum that Paul taught the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 14:26-40).
  2. Pep-rally religion. For the promoters of the all-of-life-is-worship concept, it’s all about me (or to be as charitable as possible, it’s primarily about me); it’s not about God. Root says: "Encouragement is the glue that keeps us close, the rah-rah that keeps us going, and the hook that keeps us coming back for more. It’s a drug we can’t get enough of and a gift that we never tire of giving" (Spilt Grape Juice, p. 73). The New Testament teaches, however, that worship is not about me; it’s all about God (Matt. 4:10; John 4:21-24; Rev. 14:6-7).
  3. Eating together. That sounds pretty innocent until you learn that this includes, in Root’s theology, the eating of a common meal when Christians assemble. All of this despite the fact that Paul told the Corinthians, after they had turned the Lord’s Supper into a common meal, to "eat at home" (1 Cor. 11:22, 34).
  4. An expanded role for women. With a touch of sarcasm, Root writes, "... women can talk all they want before and after those magical opening and closing prayers, because being silent in the church is referring to the formal assembly. Five minutes before that opening prayer, the same women in the same building, sitting in the same seats, could comment, share, and edify others, simply because it was called "a Bible class," and everyone knows that’s not the same as the formal worship. There is some sense of consistency in this; neither Bible classes nor formal worship are found in the New Testament, so we can make up the rules as we go." (Unbroken Bread, p. 128).

Root suggests that Paul’s restrictions on women (1 Tim. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:34-35) were "just dealing with specific first century problems in Corinth and Ephesus" (Unbroken Bread, p. 180); but in the context Paul instructs men "everywhere" (1 Tim. 2:8) and his instructions for the Corinthians were the same "as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Cor. 14:33-34, ASV, ESV, NIV, NRSV). Others argue that these restrictions were based on first-century culture, and, therefore, have no application in twenty- first-century America; but Paul bases his restrictions on women on Creation (1 Cor. 11:7-9; 1 Tim. 2:13), the Fall (1 Tim. 2:14) and the Law (1 Cor. 14:34)—three things that have absolutely nothing to do with culture.

Brethren, some preachers are trying to affect radical change in the church as we know it today The all-of-life-is-worship concept is a step in that direction. This concept, however, lacks divine foundation and must to be rejected.

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