Perhaps my favorite chapter on worship from a non-worship book is the first chapter of John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad. This is a missions book, and the first chapter is titled “The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Worship.” In fact it may be my favorite book chapter on the topic of worship, period. Nearly every sentence could be quoted. It’s worth buying the book just for the first chapter (the 2nd chapter on prayer is pretty good too).
The chapter launches with some of my favorite truths about worship and missions.
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man…. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions.
If we would allow the reality of these statements to sink into our hearts, it would revolutionize our approach to life and ministry. It would massively reorient our priorities, time, finances and energy towards God himself.
You see worship is not about worship… worship is about God. It is about the focus of our affection and devotion. We all worship. You do not have to try to worship, but you do have to focus your worship. You do have to aim the inevitable flow of your love and life in a particular direction. It is only when we focus on God himself in Jesus Chris that we begin to worship the One whom we were designed to worship. It is only right that He alone sits on the throne of our hearts.
Let’s go back and look at that quote from Let The Nations Be Glad.
Worship is the Goal of Missions
Within the Christian church world, our frenzy of ministry activity can begin to imply that the ultimate goal for Christians, and therefore God’s purpose for us, is to be busy doing the work of ministry & missions. Little attention is given to the age to come and our ultimate purpose. If it were, we would have to come to the realization that at some point in the future all of our evangelism, missions efforts and spiritual gifts will cease (I Cor. 13:8-10). Eventually there will be no one who needs to hear the Gospel, no one who needs a prophetic word and no one who needs pastoral care. There must be a greater end goal in the mind of God than to simply produce Christian workers who reproduce Christian workers who reproduce Christian workers.
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that that missions is not the goal, but that worship is (I won’t retype the FIVE pages of Bible verses that John Piper lists out in the book). God’s goal is His glory and people’s enjoyment of Him for His glory. For all eternity, humanity will be basking in the greatness of God’s goodness and grace in Jesus Christ. This is our purpose as people. This – the fiery worship of Jesus – is the goal of all Christian ministry and missions.
Worship is the Fuel of Missions
Not only is worship the goal of missions, but it is the fuel of missions. It is worshipers who make the best missionaries and evangelists. We can not invite the nations (or our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for that matter) into something that we are not experiencing ourselves. Our love for others must be an overflow of our love relationship with God. Our zeal for the advancement of God’s kingdom on the earth must be rooted in our zeal for God – and God’s zeal for God!
As Piper points out in the book, the story of Martha and Mary shows us quite clearly that is possible to be distracted from God by doing work for God. Not only does this leads to grumpy and burned out workers, but it actually hinders the fruitfulness and effectiveness of the work being done. It has been said that lovers will always outwork workers. What this means is that passionate worship of Jesus must be the first priority for all believers, especially those who desire to see the nations impacted by the Gospel of Jesus.
This understanding has had a profound impact on how I personally approach life and ministry, and it is foundational to all we do with Burn 24-7. As a worshiper, worship leader and a mobilizer of worship & prayer, I know that I am also on the forefront of fueling missions.
I encourage you to grab a a copy of Let the Nations Be Glad and let God speak to you about the supremacy of God in missions through worship.