This is the non-negotiable of worship: Once you truly meet with God you and the path of your life can never be the same again. Think about it. If you have had an encounter with God, how could life ever be the same again? Either you will run away from God or follow God in every aspect of your life. There is no middle ground.
An example of how God changes the path of people’s lives occurred shortly after Jesus was born. In the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi from the East saw all the signs that the Messiah was to be born. Being scholars and God-seekers, they decided to take an extended field trip to find this king and actually worship him. Their search led them into Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, where as respected visitors they went through all the proper political channels, including an audience with King Herod. What the Magi didn’t know was that Herod would try to use the knowledge they gained in order to find the exact location of the Messiah to kill him and ensure his own reign as king. He asked them to come back with a report on the newborn king’s location and baited them with the lie that he also wanted to “go and worship him”
As they went on their way, they finally encountered Jesus. Take a look at what then took place:
- They bowed to and worshipped the Christ child. What a mind-boggling experience this must have been to Mary, Joseph, and bystanders to see these learned and respected scholars praising, singing, praying to, and totally submitting themselves to this young child. For the Magi, they didn’t just see a child, they saw the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy finally fulfilled: God in the flesh. The wise men didn’t care what anyone else thought; they simply and unashamedly worshipped God.
- They opened their travel cases, a bit like today’s suitcases, wallets and purses, and presented Jesus with gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. In this way they backed up their voices of worship with lavish acts of worship that cost them quite a bit financially. This is a lesson for Christ-followers today, for us to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ in giving to God’s kingdom work. I’ve often wondered if the expensive gifts the Magi gave helped Joseph and Mary cover their travel and housing expenses when God directed them to flee with Jesus to Egypt.
- The Magi paid attention to and followed God’s warning in a dream to not go back to Herod. They knew God was leading them, and decided to listen and follow His prompts, even if his instructions came in a dream.
- In obedience to God’s leading in that dream, they went home different way than they came. The Bible states they went home to their own country by a different route.
Going home another way: this is a key to worship activated in our lives as well. If we have met God in worship we are:
- Forgiven and set free from our past mistakes and sins;
- Given a new start and a new position as God’s adopted and loved daughter or son in Jesus Christ;
- Healed of our spiritual, psychological, and sometimes even physical disorders;
- Infused with His own Holy Spirit to equip and empower us to live for Him;
Then how could we ever go back to the old route of our life?