“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 NIV)”
When we talk about worship we often refer to encountering God; engaging with him, drawing near to him, being caught up in his presence. A quick flick through the Bible will rapidly reveal one consistent and inescapable truth – people who encounter God are seldom left unchanged. They are left blinded, trembling, silenced, their characters are transformed, they’re humbled, awestruck, their faces glow… And it is the same today, even it situations where, by mistake, the worship leader prays about the forthcoming message “…and Father we pray that not one person will be left changed by this word” (I confess, it was me and thankfully God knew what I actually meant!). An encounter with God leaves it’s mark.
Romans 12 captures something of the Mind of worship – the state and use of our thoughts and attitudes as an act of worship – when it speaks of the ‘renewing of our minds’; a new way of thinking, processing information, making decisions.
So what does it have to do with the verse opening this post?
John’s gospel records an episode when some of Jesus’ followers begin to find the call too challenging and so they walk away. Jesus, probably downhearted at their decision turns to the twelve and asks “are you going to leave me too?” To which Peter replies “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life!” Peter recognised who Jesus was and was prepared to realigned and re calibrate his entire life accordingly – his though processes, his decision making, his attitudes… His worship. This process over time began to transform Peter from the inside out, changing the Mindset of his worship, so much so that by the time he stood before the religious leaders it was totally obvious that, though this man had no formal training, no qualifications to be saying the things he was proclaiming, he had been with Jesus; he had been changed by an encounter with Jesus that affected those around him.
Like the smell of smoke on your clothes from standing close to a bonfire, the traces of Jesus on Peter was instantly noticeable and wasn’t easy to shift.
We can do evangelism. We can do events. We can do God-slots and thoughts for the day. But if we hold to a theology of worship that states Worship is a Lifestyle, then perhaps the best form of mission is to allow the Mind of Worship to affect our thoughts. Thoughts become actions. Actions become habits and habits become our character. If and encounter with God, an act of worship, fuels our thoughts and changes and renews our minds, that mindset diffuses into our actions, into our habits and into our character, affecting those around us who can only comment “these are everyday, ordinary people, but they’ve been with Jesus.“