There are some pretty big implications that may result from one’s position on the question. Those who argue that all of life is worship are attempting to elevate every aspect of life as meaningful, sustain an active awareness of God, and live with the purpose of bringing praise to God. They are attempting to break the mold of the sacred/secular divide, treating some small segments of life as sacred and others as secular.
Those who contend all of life is worship may use the following passage to make their point.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1-2).
Our bodies are to be devoted to God in all that we do. They are given as a living sacrifice; they are holy, set apart for God’s purposes, and they are considered one’s spiritual worship. This is a compelling verse for this point of view.
On the other hand, those who argue that all of life is not worship are attempting to make worship an intentional and special activity. Time and intention need to be given to consciously praising God. Advocates of this position often value specific forms of worship, and they don’t want to see worship minimized by fusing it into other aspects of life.
They may use some of the following verses to make their point.
Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5).
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt. 2:1-2)
See Gen. 22:8; Ex. 33:10 and Acts 8:27-28 for a few more examples.
These passages are compelling, too. They present a picture of distinct times of worship. These passages imply a time when people are not worshipping, they go to a specific place for the express purpose of worship, and when they are finished they return.
Hmm? So, what do we do with these seemingly contradictory points of view. From where I sit now, I tend to try to take a composite position. That’s cheating, you say? You’re probably right, but I feel both sides of the argument have something to contribute to godly living.
I still feel comfortable with the language of going to worship, that is, going to a place for express purpose of giving praise to God. I think we should devote specific time to overt, intentional worship, especially in the assembly of the saints, although I wouldn’t limit worship to a public, communal affair. One could also set aside specific time in private or small groups to pray, sing and utter words of praise.
Having said that, I don’t want to give up on the impulse that has caused some to say that all of life is worship. Rom. 12:1-2 uses the metaphor of worship to describe our lives. There is a sense in which all of life is to be devoted to God and lived intentionally for God. If this is just a matter of semantics, maybe it’s better to think of all of life as holy, a term I doubt any would contest (1 Pet. 1:14-16). In another words, the distinct act of worship is a fitting metaphor or picture for what all of life should be. Aspects, attitudes and the intentionality of worship should be applied to all of life. God should be the foundation upon which we build all of our actions.
Using sacrifice as a metaphor for life is a daunting and challenging picture. One does not half-way sacrifice or most-of-the-way sacrifice. The demands of discipleship, being a follower of Christ, are demanding. It requires those who have made a claim of discipleship to question whether their life truly matches their profession. It’s a good question and one I need to revisit repeatedly.