What is the purpose of the Christian life? Generally, we can say our purpose is to glorify God, but how do we do that? Some say our main focus should be living a life of worship – thoughts, words, and deeds that offer thanks and praise to God. Worship is the appropriate response to God’s great power, love, and goodness. A lifestyle of worship during the week should drive our collective worship gathering on Sundays, and vice versa.
Others say that we’ll have all eternity to worship God, but since evangelism is the one thing we can’t do in heaven, that should be the focus of the Christian life while on earth. Our mission is to love, serve, and speak on God’s behalf to the world – to bring his Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, we proclaim in word and deed the good news that through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ we can be delivered from sin and death and brought into eternal life.
So then, is worship or mission the central purpose of the Christian life? It is worship and mission together! Far from being opposing concepts, worship and mission are in fact overlapping and interrelated. Worship and mission work together, feed each other, and a life of worship thrives best when done in tandem with a missional life.
1 Peter 2:9 proclaims why God has redeemed his people: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We have a beautiful new identity as God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood. Peter is echoing the ways God talks about Israel in the Old Testament as a royal priesthood (see Exodus 19:5-6). Now, unlike modern day royal families, we’re not just sitting around in our wealth waiting for the next photo opp. Priests have a role; they are active in worship and they minister to those in need. Earlier, in verse 5, Peters says we are “a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Priests offer sacrifices of praise and point others to the once and for all sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
God has called a people to himself so that “you may proclaim the excellencies of him who call you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Now, are we declaring these praises up to God in worship or out to the world in mission? Well, if we’re proclaiming excellent things about God, certainly it’s an act of worship. But if you look at the context, Peter certainly also has in mind mission – how we live before an unbelieving world that is watching our witness (see verses 11-12). Witness is not disconnected from worship. Witness is an overflow of worship.
As we share the Gospel with people, we’re not giving a stale theology lesson. We’re not reciting a list of precepts so they can give their intellectual assent. We’re gushing, praising God, proclaiming how wonderful God is, how amazing he’s been in our lives, how worthy he is of our obedience and worship. The good news of redemption is true and it should be believed. But the good news of the Redeemer is also excellent and should be loved!
God redeemed us so that we would glorify him and live out his glory before the world, and declare his glory to the world. Worship doesn’t stop with offering praise to God, but it overflows into offering praise about God to the world. You see, worship drives our mission and mission is an act of worship. So let’s live as a people for God’s own possession, a royal priesthood, that gushes about God to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and teammates. Let’s live out the call of Isaiah 12:2-5!
“‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.’ 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.’”