To worship is an action that looks to the past, present, and future. We worship God for what He HAS DONE in our lives; we praise Him and thank Him for what He IS DOING in the present; we cry out with great hope and expectation for what He WILL DO in the future.
To worship—as an action—is an ongoing activity, which, for us, only exists in the present. The now. We can’t change the past; tomorrow will worry about itself; but what we do NOW is what God is calling us to.
Renewal is also an ongoing activity. We experience renewal on repeat. Like worship, renewal is an action that looks to and exists in the past, present, and future, but, just like worship, we get to experience it and seek it in the present. It is meant to be experienced in the present.
In Colossians 3, Paul describes how this works (You should absolutely read the whole chapter upon reading this little tidbit I have for you here; there’s so much more revelation there!). Renewal happened the first time when we were raised up with Christ (verse 1), and the process of renewal is the immediate application of your salvation! In the very next verse, Paul commands us to set our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth. Why? So Christ can be your life (verse 4), and so you also will be “revealed with Him in glory”. Whoo! Talk about renewal!
Daily we are called to lay aside all such fleshly, carnal junk: lying, anger, malice, slander, abusive speech (verses 7-9). These things we put to death are what constantly keep us in this process of renewal. We rip all this stuff away from us and toss it away—we don’t want it! We’ve tasted and we’ve seen that the Lord is good—not our stuff, not our thoughts, not our ways. His ways. And after tossing aside all that stuff, we don’t stay empty handed. We put on the new self who is BEING RENEWED to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who has created us (verse 10). Come on now, that’s worth worshipping about!
In this aforementioned renewal, Paul says “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and in all” (verse 11). Let’s go! Are you singing out loud yet?
Our renewal is necessary for this level of unity to exist amongst our church bodies. And it comes about by our sacrificing and laying aside our stuff and our fleshly desires and instincts because those things are weights and burdens that God has not intended for us to carry. Our renewal comes about when we set our minds on things above, when we put on hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience—when we put on love, which is the “perfect bond of unity” (verses 11-14).
Renewal is a process that begins intimately with Christ and you—Christ and me—but is ultimately revealed and worked out through the body of Christ—in the context of our relationships with one another. Do you see that? Your renewal started with Christ raising you up, you seeking the Kingdom and putting aside those worldly things, but is revealed and is continued by your very interactions with the body of Christ—by “bearing with one another” and “forgiving one another” (verse 13).
May we each of us individually, intimately with Christ, praise Him for the renewal that happens daily in our lives, and may we also experience together the miraculous renewal that is accessible and inevitable in our gathering as families.